Fisheries fund fraudsters must pay £40,000 over cheat

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TWO men who were among a group who cheated the Marine Management Organisation to obtain grants must repay more than £40,000 between them.

The crimes relate to three dodgy applications under the European Fisheries Fund and the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance.

The four were caught during checks by the Marine Management Organisation.

Michael Burge, 48, of Cosham Refrigeration Ltd, admitted two counts of false accounting for supplying false invoices, one to Ian Bickerstaff of West Quay Fisheries and one to William Brock of Brighton and Newhaven Fish Sales. He received a 10 month suspended sentence and was ordered to perform 120 hours of unpaid work. Brock, 49, who received almost £30,000 he was not entitled to. admitted fraud and received a nine-month suspended sentence. He must do 120 hours of unpaid work.

Ian Bickerstaff, 60, and David Henman, 65, of West Quay Fisheries, admitted two counts of false accounting for supplying false invoices.

Bickerstaff received an eight-month suspended sentence and must do 120 hours of unpaid work and pay £11,667.18 compensation.. Henman received a seven month suspended sentence and a two-month curfew.

Brock must pay compensation of £28,782.34

The men were ordered to pay £46,612.80 in costs between them at Portsmouth Crown Court.

Andy Newlands, principal marine officer at the MMO, said: ‘We take any attempt to defraud grant schemes very seriously as this is taxpayers’ money. Any attempt to falsely claim funding is potentially depriving others of the opportunity to access these funds. We appreciate that the vast majority of applications are made honestly but we can, and will, take action if false or inflated claims are made.’