Age UK '˜deeply saddened' by former chief executive's '˜serious breach of trust' after he is jailed

A charity has told of its 'deep sadness' after the conclusion of a trial which saw a greedy chief executive jailed for seven years.
John BriersJohn Briers
John Briers

John Briers left South Shields’ Age Concern charity surviving “hand to mouth” after he lined his own pockets with over £700,000 of its cash.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that he would divert up to 20% of the charity’s yearly income into his own bank.

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The court also heard that Briers’ dishonesty caused six redundancies at the organisation, which helps the elderly and needy in South Tyneside.

Age UK, the national body of the charity, has given its reaction after Briers, 57, of Woodstock Road, Gateshead, was jailed.

A spokesman for Age UK said: “We are pleased that the trial is over but deeply saddened by this serious breach of trust and highly conscious of how much more might have been done by the local charity to help older people in the South Tyneside area if it had not happened.”

Former financial manager Graham Cassidy, who has since taken over as chief executive, told the court that on top of the £700,000 stolen by Briers, the charity has lost another £590,000 as a result of the fraud.

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He said the organisation has had to find £200,000 in legal fees, lost £250,000 in income and had to fork out £78,000 in audit fees.

The court heard six people have been made redundant from the organisation, four staff have had to reduce hours and management have had to take on increasing workloads in order for it to survive after the fraud.

Mr Cassidy said the negative publicity associated with Briers’ behaviour has led to a huge slump in donations and put off some volunteers from future involvement.