A BOGUS clergyman offered jobs to vulnerable adults in South Tyneside while he was on the run from police for a £30,000 charity scam.
Liverpudlian George Gordon – who called himself ‘The Reverend’ after buying the title from a Canadian website – was awarded the cash from a fund that was supposed to be given out to good causes on Merseyside.
The 51-year-old swindled the money by pretending he needed it for training and staff for groups that help disabled people in Liverpool but pocketed it for himself.
He was arrested in 2008 after a police investigation but disappeared while on bail.
Now, South Tyneside employment agency Ten, has told how Gordon – going by the name Chris Lawler – approached them last year to say he was setting up a community interest company in South Shields and was on the look out for staff.
He told bosses at Ten that he had links with the Bishop of Durham and was looking to recruit 24 disabled adults to work at a unit in Tyne Dock where they would build and refurbish computers.
Dyspraxia sufferer Neil Taylor, from South Shields, South Tyneside, was offered a modern apprenticeship by Gordon in December.
The 24-year-old’s father, John, 54, who lives with his wife, Allison, 50, and other son, David, 26, demanded to know how a fugitive had been allowed to work with some of the region’s most vulnerable adults.
The IT worker said: “How did he get into the system. What checks were made on him and how was he allowed to break people’s hearts?
“He offered jobs and destroyed people’s lives. He had access to vulnerable people despite being on the run from police.”
The start date Gordon had given his workers passed in December and when Ten tried to contact him about it they were told he had suffered a number of heart attacks.
A spokeswoman for South Tyneside Ten said: “He was brought to us with the promise of vacancies for our most vulnerable clients.
“We didn’t know him as George Gordon, he was calling himself something else.
“We’ve just been another victim which the police in Liverpool might not know about.
“He was telling people he knew the Bishop of Durham.
“We think it’s disgusting that he could build up the expectations of vulnerable people.”
It is not thought Gordon received any money while in South Shields and Northumbria Police said they were not investigating any wrongdoing.
However, he was arrested for his crimes in Liverpool after being on the run for three years following a national appeal to trace him and pleaded guilty to 20 fraud charges at Liverpool Crown Court this week.
The court heard that he had previously been convicted of similar crimes in 1988, and had served separate three-year and four- year sentences for theft and obtaining money by deception in the 1990s.
Gordon, from Toxteth, Liverpool, was remanded in custody until March 22, when he is due to be sentenced.