I wasn't the man on the inside says ex-boss at centre of Leeds Grand Theatre '˜fraud'

The former head of finance at Leeds Grand Theatre has denied that he was 'the man on the inside' during a fraud conspiracy involving nearly £180,000 of public money.

Leeds Grand Theatre.
Leeds Grand Theatre.

Peter Alp, 54, also rejected claims that he “couldn’t lie straight in bed” when he gave evidence at a trial yesterday (Tuesday).

Alp is accused of entering fake invoices before arranging for money to be sent to a friend’s bank account then splitting the cash with him.

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The prosecution claim Alp entered 54 invoices for services that were not actually carried out on behalf of a man called Dean Oates and a company called Bittern Entertainment.

Leeds Crown Court has heard each invoice would result in hundreds, and later thousands of pounds, in public money being paid into either Oates’s bank account or one he set up in the name of Bittern.

Oates has already given evidence at the trial when he told the jury that Alp would go to a Harrogate pub - The Fat Badger - to meet him in order to pick up half of the money.

Invoices to the value of £178,340 were found to be fraudulent during an internal audit. The offending is alleged to have taken place between 2011 and 2013.

Oates, from Lime Bar Lane, York, has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud, while Alp, 54, originally from Harrogate and now of Minster Drive, Herne Bay, Kent, denies the same offence.

Giving evidence, Alp denied that he was a friend of Oates. He said he knew Oates had been in a relationship with his childminder and was someone he saw occasionally.

Alp said: “My knowledge of Dean Oates prior to the period of the fraud was that he was like a Del Boy Trotter, in the good sense.

“He was a scrap dealer and dabbled in antiques. He had his pub and club singing tribute act that he did.”

Alp continued: “My main leisure activity was to do with the church. Dean was not part of that circle.”

The court heard that Alp had Oates’s number stored in his mobile phone under the name ‘Sinatra’.

Alp’s barrister, Jason Macadam, asked his client if Oates’s evidence that Alp had approached him to make arrangements to pay money into his account was true.

Alp replied: “To be absolutely clear, there was never ever an inappropriate conversation between Dean Oates and myself.

“I never started such a conversation and he never started such a conversation. That did not happen.”

Mr Macadam asked: “Mr Oates would suggest that at the time he met you he was at a very low ebb, mentally and physically, and that he was a drug user and in constant pain. Does that describe the Dean Oates that you knew?”

Alp replied: “Absolutely not. Dean always seemed fit, Dean always seemed lucid. I had no reason to think that he was in ill health.”

The barrister said: “He (Oates) would have it that he would go in to the Fat Badger pub and would arrive with Morrisons carrier bags of cash and he would give those to you...did anything like that ever occur?”

Alp replied: “Never.”

During cross-examination, prosecutor Christopher Dunn put it to Alp that the evidence he had given in relation to the invoices had been “smoke and mirrors”.

He said: “Everything you say is designed to subvert and confused and to deceive.”

Alp replied: “No.”

Mr Dunn continued: “You think your intelligence will be enough to pull the wool over the jury’s eyes don’t you.” The defendant replied: “No, I’m just speaking in my defence.”

Mr Dunn then asked: “What is your defence?”

Alp replied: “My defence is that I have not committed a fraud, that I have not been party to a fraud and that I have done nothing wrong.”

The prosecutor said to Alp: “You are wriggling now aren’t you?” Alp replied: “No”

Mr Dunn continued: “You are wriggling because you are on the end of a hook aren’t you?” Alp then said: “That is your choice of words not mine.”

Mr Dunn asked Alp: “Do you accept, or don’t you accept, that there must have been someone on the inside to help Mr Oates with this fraud?”

Alp said: “Yes.”

The prosecutor then said: “That man was you.” Alp replied: “No”

During the questioning, Mr Dunn said to Alp: “You can’t lie straight in bed can you?”

Alp replied: “Your choice of words.”

The lawyer continued: “You are one of those people who, if you were caught with an apple in your pocket by the greengrocer, you would say ‘it’s not even an apple’”

Alp replied: “Again, that’s your choice of words. It’s not reality.”

The trial continues.