Ex-miners’ leader faces jail over theft

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A FORMER mining union leader who stole nearly £150,000 from a charity for sick and elderly former pit workers is facing jail following a probe by South Yorkshire Police.

Neil Greatrex, the former president of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers, was convicted of 14 charges of theft from Phoenix Nursing and Residential Home, run by the Nottinghamshire Miners Home charity.

He used some of the £148,628.83 he stole to carry out improvements on his own home, including an £11,750 kitchen and other building and landscaping work.

Greatrex’s crimes came to light during a South Yorkshire Police probe into the activities of two former partners of Doncaster-based law firm Beresfords, who were struck off for acting dishonestly over compensation claims for sick miners.

James Beresford and Douglas Smith earned more than £115 million by mishandling the compensation claims of almost 90,000 sick miners.

After his conviction, Greatrex was told to expect prison when he is sentenced in May.

Judge John Wait told the 61-year-old, of Shepherds Lane, Stanley, Nottinghamshire: “Union members had placed their trust in you. I see only one possible sentence – prison.”

Greatrex was a trustee of the Nottinghamshire Miners Home Charity and able to sign cheques on behalf of it.

He spent more than 20 years in the NUM, before forming the UDM in 1985 after speaking out against NUM president Arthur Scargill’s tactics in the 1985 strikes.

Graham Wragg, of South Yorkshire Police’s economic crime unit, said: “During interviews Greatrex made ‘no comment’ replies. He never gave any explanation for what he’d done or why.

“Greatrex was head of the UDM and was stealing money from the charity set up to look after the wellbeing of sick and elderly miners. It’s despicable.

“The miners put him in a position of trust to look after their welfare and he stole from them.”