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Former Southport MP turned Lib Dem in charity fraud claims
17 March 2010

A turncoat former Southport MP was arrested for trying to take money from a children's charity backed by Prince Harry, a national newspaper has claimed.

Matthew Banks, who was Conservative MP for Southport between 1992 and 1997, received a formal caution from police in Gloucestershire in connection with claims made to the child welfare charity WellChild - which Prince Harry is patron of - using doctored cheques, according to reports published in the Daily Telegraph last Saturday (March 13, 2010).

And in a seperate incident the former Tory - who defected to the Liberal Democrats last year - has upset Conservative voters by urging them to vote for Lib Dem MP John Pugh in this year's General Election in a letter sent out to residents' homes.

“A lot of people have been in touch with me over the weekend and they're disgusted not only by what's being claimed by the Daily Telegraph, but also by the letter he's sent out, which they see as being dirty politics,” said Brenda Porter, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Southport.

“I'm quite dissapointing by the way it has all been played out, particularly after the claims he has been arrested came out. It all comes across as being very tacky.”

The newspaper reported that Mr Banks was arrested for trying to take money from the charity, which his wife worked for, using a doctored cheque which had been made out to his wife from the organisation.

Gloucestershire Constabulary confirmed to The Champion that a 48-year-old man received a formal caution in 2007 for theft from the Wellchild Trust in Cheltenham in 2006.

The former MP no longer lives in the Southport area but last week sent out a letter urging residents to vote for Liberal Democrat MP John Pugh at the next General Election. The letter lists his address as 35, Shakespeare Street - the same address as the town's Liberal Democrat party offices.

"These recent newspaper allegations about Matthew Bank's past before he switched parties are very serious and disturbing and require a full,fair and proper investigation," said Mr Pugh.

"Unless and until he is able to establish innocence- through the courts or otherwise- he, self evidently, cannot continue to play a role in any political party. That much is obvious."

Mr Banks responded to the allegations by saying that he would never defraud any charity, and alledged that another individual had defrauded one of his company bank accounts.

“People that know my wife will understand that she has always acted with the utmost probity and integrity. Payment for her services working for a charity were paid by contract to a limited company. I myself was not involved in her charity work, other than giving moral support. In January 2007 my wife was interviewed by the police for a mere 15 minutes,” he said.

“Unbeknown to me another individual close to my company was systematically defrauding my account by putting monies into my company account which were not his. By August 2007 some £100,000 had been transferred under false pretences to an account he controlled in Switzerland. I became aware of this in August 2007 and contacted the authorities. The total sum transferred from a variety of account is very substantial.

”There is now a very much bigger, lengthy and highly complex police investigation headed by the Metropolitan police and North Yorkshire Constabulary. A man has been on remand for 13 months. I do not wish to prejudice a fair trial but I can say for certain that I would never consider de-frauding a charity. I am unable to comment further in view of the trial when it comes. As yet no date has been set."

WellChild declined to comment on the issue but did tell The Champion that an attempt to defraud the charity using doctored cheques, which happened between late 2006 and early 2007, was unsuccessful and that it was picked up by both the charity's bank and Gloucestershire Constabulary before any money was transferred.

It also stressed that all donations are handled securely and are not at risk.

By David Simister

 

Find out about the original claims at: http://www.champnews.com/html/newsstory.asp?id=8133

 


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