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Charity swindler jailed over cash fraud

A Manchester breast cancer charity went bankrupt after it was apparent that less than 10p per pound was going towards the cause. // Tony Freeman, 40, the man who admitted fraudulently removing money from the company, was jailed at the High Court in Glasgow for 18 months yesterday.

His company, Solutions Recruitment and Management Consultancy (Solutions RMC), raised money for several cancer charities, including Breast Cancer Relief in Manchester.

The court heard how Freeman told his company staff that he needed £450,000 to pay for computer software, after the Charities Commission and Scotland police started an investigation into the financial dealings of the company. This probe was launched in the middle of accusations that the company had swindled millions from Breast Cancer Relief's sister charity, Breast Cancer Research (Scotland).

Last week the High Court in Edinburgh heard £210,000 000 was seized under a Proceeds of Crime Order. On his reappearance for sentencing yesterday at the High Court in Glasgow Freeman's defence counsel, Peter Gray, QC, said, "He has paid back all the money he had taken, although he still owes almost £620,000 to creditors.

Judge Lord Kinclaven ignored pleas to spare Freeman a custodial sentence and said: "Having had regard to the serious nature of this offence, I'm satisfied that there is no alternative to a custodial sentence. No other method of dealing with you is appropriate. "You removed a substantial sum of money fraudulently and in breach of Section 206 of the Insolvency Act."

According to the judge, Freeman would have been jailed for 2 years if he had not pleaded guilty in September.

According to Jan Stirrat and Alice Montgomery, of the Scottish Breast Cancer Campaign, with which freeman was not involved said that charity for breast cancer had been hampered by his actions. Mrs Stirrat said: "I think all breast cancer charities in Scotland have been affected by t his man's actions. People have been saying, 'We are not giving to you'."

Solutions RMC was started by Freeman in December 2000, which went into bankruptcy in 2003. £190,000 was being paid by Freeman himself every year to run the firm. This firm was a leading fundraiser for Dundee-based Breast Cancer Research (Scotland) and Breast Cancer Relief. However, a Court of Session judge ordered Freeman not to involve in the management of the charity.

The Scottish Charities' Office watchdog revealed that of the £13m raised for charity only £1.5m was delivered.

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