May 20 2013 Latest news:
Melissa York, Reporter
Friday, March 1, 2013
A man employed by the council to rehabilitate criminal youths was stripped of his OBE on Tuesday for stealing nearly £300,000 of taxpayers’ money.
Peter Nicholson, 58, was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2005 for his work as head of Newham Council’s Youth Offending Team but the Cabinet Office withdrew the honour.
Their honours forfeiture committee can revoke awards if the recipient has been jailed for more than three months or expelled from a professional body.
Nicholson, from Bexleyheath, was found guilty of five counts of conspiracy to defraud and he was sentenced to five years in prison after an eight-week trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court in July last year.
Nicholson fronted a gang of fraudsters who helped him to create three non-existent council employees in order to syphon off the wages.
He stole a total of £281,771.90 while he was the youth offending boss between May 20 2000 and August 31 2007, spending the cash on holidays to Canada.
Newham Council said they had a “zero tolerance” approach to fraudulent use of public funds and they have “rigorous” detection systems in place including regular audits.
A spokesperson added: “Peter Nicholson systematically abused his in depth knowledge of the system.
“We employed him in good faith and he abused that trust.
“He betrayed us and many other people.”
Last month, Kerry Butler, 47, also of Bexleyheath, was sentenced to two years in prison at Snaresbrook Crown Court after she used her recruitment agency to charge fake temporary agency staff wages to the council.