Union chief admits £40k theft

Ann Sharp
Ann Sharp

A CROOKED former Unison official has been warned she faces jail after she admitted stealing more than £40,000 of union funds.

Ann Sharp confessed at Teesside Crown Court to plundering £41,680 of public sector workers’ contributions from the Hartlepool branch of Unison. The 54-year-old worked as treasurer for the Hartlepool Borough Council branch of the union.

But for three-and-a-half years she systematically siphoned off money by cashing in Unison cheques from the bank and keeping the money herself.

Council worker Sharp pleaded guilty to four counts of theft when she appeared in the dock yesterday.

Sentencing was adjourned until reports are prepared, but the judge warned her to expect prison.

Recorder Howard Prosser said: “I want to make it clear to you, and I have no doubt you understand this perfectly clearly, the fact I’m granting you bail and adjourning for the preparation of a pre-sentence report does not mean you will receive anything other than a custodial sentence.”

Sharp stole the money between December 2007 and July last year when she was seconded to the union from the council and was joint secretary and treasurer.

Ian West, prosecuting, said the Crown Prosecution Service will try to recoup as much of the money as possible with a Proceeds of Crime application.

No clue as to why Sharp stole the money came out during the short hearing, but the court heard she was of good character.

Unison provides negotiating and bargaining support for 850,000 members across the UK, including around 1,750 employed by Hartlepool Borough Council.

Contributions to the union start from just 28p a week and rise depending on salary.

A member earning between £17,000-£20,000 a year will contribute £11.50 per month or £138 a year.

Sharp, of Pannell Place, Clavering, Hartlepool, is due to be sentenced on Monday, August 20.

The regional office of Unison declined to comment at this time.

A spokesman for Hartlepool council said: “The council is aware of yesterday’s court proceedings and can confirm that a formal investigation is now underway, as part of the council’s disciplinary procedures.”