Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Former hospice boss jailed for long-running fraud

Graham Leggatt-Chidgey. Photo: Gazette Media Company Syndication
An itemised hotel bill, produced in court. Credit: Cleveland Police

The former chief executive of one of Teesside's best known hospices has been sentenced to four years behind bars after admitting fraud.

Graham Leggatt-Chidgey, who headed up the Butterwick Hospice, used the charity’s credit to spend more than £90,000 on suits, designer Mont Blanc pens and luxury hotels.

The fraud took place between June 2009 and March 2017.

Leggatt-Chidgey would not allow other staff at Butterwick Hospice to open the credit card bills and put the personal expenditure down as travel, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The 63-year-old, of Rokeby, near Barnard Castle was arrested last May.

Stephen Ward, the grandson of late hospice founder Mary Butterwick, said she would have been “mortified” by what had happened .

The hospice is one of Teesside’s best known charities and has offered palliative care for thousands of patients.

Since Leggatt-Chidgey was arrested last year, the charity, which needs £4m a year, believed its donations were down by £100,000.

Christopher Baker, prosecuting, said other employees’ concerns were raised in 2016 when the chief executive appeared to be struggling with his workload.

Investigations revealed that spending had been going up while income was going down, and inquiries were made about Leggatt-Chidgey’s credit card use after he was seen using it to buy expensive rounds of drinks at events, including cocktails and champagne.

He was suspended in March 2017 and sacked for gross misconduct the following month.

This was an extremely complex inquiry where a long-serving senior employee in a position of trust had systematically defrauded his employer; a well-established and respected local charity.

Mr Leggatt-Chidgey’s actions are in direct contrast to the spirit of the hospice’s founder Mary Butterwick, who sold her own home to set up this wonderful facility which has done so much good for the community for more than 30 years.

Over a lengthy period of time Mr Leggatt-Chidgey helped himself to money – often provided by supporters’ fund raising activities - and I believe the hard working staff and volunteers who have given money, goods or their time to the hospice, will share my utter disgust at what he has done.

On that note, I’d like to thank all the staff and trustees from Butterwick Hospice who have assisted with the police investigation while continuing to provide patients, their families and friends a service and level of care which is second to none. Their support has been absolutely invaluable and I wish them well for the future.

– Detective Constable Chris Pringle, Cleveland Police’s Fraud Investigation Team

A further hearing in November will decide how much money Leggatt-Chidgey will have to pay back, and how quickly.