Oyston man on trial

Fresh charges of theft have been laid against the accountant to Owen Oyston, the flamboyant businessman convicted of rape last year.

Robin Oakley, 45, will appear in court at Preston in a fortnight to face 12 counts of theft from the entrepreneur?s empire. The number of charges has grown from just two since he first appeared in court last month.

Oakley, who is on remand in Preston jail, is accused of stealing more than #600,000 from Oyston?s media, property, football and farming company, Oyston Group and from Oyston personally.

Oakley worked for Oyston Group for nine years before leaving last month, shortly before he first appeared in court. The company, whose interests include a significant holding in Blackpool Football Club, said it was co-operating fully with the police inquiry.

Lancashire police said this week that they were also investigating the unauthorised transfer of #1.8m from a local joint venture company, Jebwill, in which both the Oyston Group and the Derbyshire county council pension fund had an interest. The county council is expected to enlist a firm of forensic accountants to recover the money lost.

Nick Hodgson, Derbyshire?s chief executive, said: ?We acted swiftly as soon as we became aware that cash was transferred from the company. We will now do everything we can to make sure we recover the money.?

Hodgson added that the investment, worth 0.2% of the pension?s fund assets, will not affect present or future pensioners in the Derbyshire fund.

In 1989, the Department of Environment began a review of rules governing local authority pensions after investments by the Derbyshire fund were questioned in parliament.

The fund?s involvement with the Oyston empire began in 1986 when it invested #305,000 in left-wing paper News on Sunday. In 1988, the fund paid a further #2m for a stake in Jebwill, a subsidiary of Oyston?s company Telemags. The cash was used to take an 11% stake in Red Rose Radio, a company then being taken over by Oyston.

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