A former mayor is to go on trial after pleading not guilty to five offences of fraud in relation to lottery cash used to build a town’s war memorial.
Roy Bickerton, 76, the former mayor of Featherstone, appeared at Leeds Crown Court yesterday for a plea hearing over the alleged offences, which the prosecution claim took place in 2009 and 2010.
Bickerton, of Sandhill Rise, Pontefract spoke only to confirm his name and enter not guilty pleas.
He is charged with committing fraud on September 24 2009, when he allegedly made false representations to the Big Lottery Fund by proving false accounting information in an end-of-grant report.
He is also charged with submitting false invoices on December 13 2010, purporting to be from SA Compliance Solutions Ltd, Yorkshire Volunteers Band, Red Dog Imaging and Tribe Marketing.
Magistrates at an earlier hearing were told the alleged false invoices totalled £5,728.46.
Prosecutor Adrian Dent said a DVD containing evidence will be played to the jury at Bickerton’s trial.
Bickerton’s barrister Richard Wright told the court: “This is a case that has an involved history and one in which there are a number of issues I need to talk to the defendant about.”
Mr Wright said it was denied that Bickerton had behaved dishonestly and that the invoices were not false and there was a “far wider background that needs to be investigated”.
The barrister added: “All I can say is Mr Bickerton has a long history to relay to me.”
Judge Sally Cahill QC adjourned the case until the trial on June 10 and granted Bickerton unconditional bail.
Bickerton was arrested in October 2011 following an investigation into a £10,000 lottery grant awarded to the Garden Fund in May 2008 by the lottery fund.
The war memorial on Station Lane – which has around 400 names inscribed on its walls – opened in October 2008 following years of campaigning in the community. Bickerton was an independent member on Wakefield Council between 2004 and 2010 and the town’s mayor between 2009 and 2010.