A GROUP of five former colleagues are to stand trial on fraud charges relating to when they worked for an award-winning charity.

Four of them are accused of jointly trying to fraudulently attract taxpayers’ money for St Margaret’s Hospice, while the other is alleged to have created invoices for fraudulent purposes.

They have all denied the allegations, which date back to their time at the Bishop’s Hull-based hospice more than two years ago.

All five are likely to likely to appear in the dock together before a judge and jury after their case was deemed indictable only, meaning the accusations are too serious to be dealt with by magistrates.

Chairman of the bench Charis Cavaghan-Pack on Friday sent the case against the five, who no longer work at St Margaret’s, to Taunton Crown Court on Monday, July 30 “or such other date, time or place as the crown court directs”.

The accused are Alistair Gibson, 66, of Stanton Drew, Bristol; Andrew Howard, 49, of Monmouth Close, Chard; Caroline Longstreet, 61, of Tolland, near Lydeard St Lawrence; Paul Raymond, 60, of Irwell Green, Taunton; and former chief executive Jon Andrewes, 64, of Flood Street, Stoke Gabriel.

Howard is accused of making invoices for works at St Margaret’s “knowing they had been designed or adapted for use in the course of or in connection with fraud” between December 2010 and August 2015.

The charge sheet alleges the four other defendants conspired together to commit fraud by making a false representation intending to make a gain between December 2010 and February 2016.

It is claimed they provided false information to Hospice UK in an attempt to win Department of Health capital grants for St Margaret’s Hospice.

All five were all released on unconditional bail by Mrs Cavaghan-Pack to be tried under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

St Margaret’s Hospice has just been named Hospice of the Year in the Charity Today Awards 2018 following a public vote on Twitter.

The accolade comes after the charity submitted an entry highlighting feedback from patients and families about the quality of care, as well as its innovative fundraising activities and research projects.