South Shields charity boss to stand trial over £700,000 fraud allegations

John Briers is accused of eight offences of fraud by abuse of trust.
John Briers is accused of eight offences of fraud by abuse of trust.

A charity boss accused of committing a £700,000 fraud against Age UK faces a trial by jury.

John Briers was suspended from his position as chief executive officer of Age UK South Tyneside in August 2015 after concerns about finances.

The 56-year-old is accused of eight offences of fraud by abuse of trust between January 2007 and August 2015, involving a total of about £724,000.

Briers appeared today at Newcastle Crown Court, where he spoke only to confirm his name. No pleas were taken.

A further hearing will take place in July, and a trial date has been listed for next April. It could take more than two weeks.

Judge Penny Moreland said Briers' unconditional bail can continue.

She told him: "Today we have fixed a date for your trial. That will be April 30 next year.

"I will adjourn this pre-trial and preparation hearing until July 24. You need to return on that date to complete making of arrangements for the trial.

"Stay in touch with your solicitors and barrister, who will want to see you before that date. You can have bail in the meantime.

"If you fail to attend court when required to do so, you could be committing an offences for which you could be separately punished."

At a previous magistrates hearing, Briers' legal team said he denies any dishonesty or wrongdoing.

Age UK South Tyneside, based in Beach Road, South Shields, is a charity providing services and support for older people in the community.

Its role is to promote the wellbeing of older people to make later life a fulfilling and enjoyable experience through a range of services.