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Monday, 11 June 2018

Hospice boss faces jail for £100,000 fraud using charity's credit card

Written by Tom Wilkinson

A hospice boss whose arrest cost the charity £100,000 in lost donations will be jailed when he is sentenced for a long-running fraud.

Graham Leggatt-Chidgey, 62, pleaded guilty to abusing his position as chief executive of Butterwick Hospice by using its credit card for his personal expenditure over nearly eight years.

He previously denied all the charges against him but changed his plea on the day his trial at Teesside Crown Court was due to begin.

When Judge Sean Morris granted him bail last month, he told him: "Don't read into it that this is anything other than a custodial sentence.

"This gives you time to get your affairs in order."

When he left court Leggatt-Chidgey refused to answer reporters' questions about hospice volunteers now being abused on the streets and called thieves by people angry at his fraud.

The hospice which has facilities in Stockton-on-Tees, Bishop Auckland and Weardale, was set up by Mary Butterwick in 1984 using money from the sale of her house, in memory of her husband John who had died.

Leggatt-Chidgey, who lived near Barnard Castle, County Durham, was chief executive for 21 years and his double-barrelled name, military ties and wealthy demeanour led staff to think he had independent means.

But instead, he was a skilled fraudster who has badly damaged the hospice's reputation, it said.

Since he was arrested last year, the charity, which needs £4 million a year, estimated its donations were down by £100,000.

After the former CEO pleaded guilty to fraud, chairwoman of the trustees Judith Hunter said: "The Butterwick Hospice has been the victim of a terrible crime committed by one individual.

"We know that people have lost faith and confidence in the hospice, however I'm glad the story is now out there for people to hear.

"I ask people to get behind the hospice. It's really important we continue with the legacy Mary Butterwick introduced many decades ago."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Owen Humphries / PA Wire.