Great Barton man jailed for pension fraud loses appeal

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A Great Barton man jailed for his involvement in a £52million pension fraud has had his appeal against conviction rejected.

Graham John Pitcher was jailed for eight years at Southwark Crown Court in July 2011, after being found guilty of conspiracy to defraud.

The 52-year-old, of Nacton Lane, Great Barton, Bury St Edmunds, challenged his conviction at the Appeal Court, with his lawyers arguing it should be overturned in light of evidence which later emerged during the trial of two other men accused of involvement in the plot. They were cleared.

Lawyers also claimed the aquittal of one of the men itself cast doubt on the ‘safety’ of Pitcher’s conviction.

Pitcher was the principal director of GP Noble Trustees Ltd - an independent pension trustee company based in Nottingham.

The prosecution case at trial was that, between October 2006 and July 2008, he conspired with others to defraud beneficiaries of pension schemes overseen by the firm, by liquidating investments.

The court heard all of the schemes were closed, UK-based, occupational pension schemes relating to firms which had been wound up.

Pitcher was said to have played a central role in misappropriating £52 million of funds belonging to nine such schemes, by transferring them to other organisations with no assets or track record, and failing to inform other GP Noble directors or the pension authorities.

Dismissing the appeal, Lord Justice Treacy said there was nothing either in the new material, or in the argument relating to the other men, which cast doubt on Pitcher’s conviction.

Sitting with Mr Justice Griffith Williams and Mrs Justice Lang, he added: “The overall effect of the now available material would not have made any material impact on the specific issues to which it was relevant, and thus no impact upon the overall verdict.

“It therefore follows that Pitcher was not denied a fair trial and there is nothing in this respect which could render the verdict unsafe”.

The Court was also ‘unpersuaded’ that there was any tenable argument that the other man’s acquittal rendered Pitcher’s conviction unsafe.