A WIRRAL businessman accused of fleecing pensioners in a £5m fraud has quit his high-profile position in Merseyside cricket, but says he will fight the allegations.
Malcolm Barber, 69, appeared in court charged with defrauding 127 investors through a business called Gentry Investment Trust.
It is alleged those who put money into Gentry were mainly elderly with investments often made from life savings and retirement funds.
The Liverpool and District Cricket Competition (LDCC) confirmed that Barber, from Wallasey, had tendered his resignation as honorary treasurer of the organisation and “all other capacities in which he currently serves”.
Barber, who is vice-president of the Lancashire Cricket Board as well as a well-respected umpire, had his resignation accepted by the LDCC management committee.
A letter seen by the News tells how Barber intends to fight “to the bitter end” the charges he faces.
A statement released by his solicitors was sent to cricket clubs including New Brighton, where Barber is vice-president.
Peter Quinn, of criminal defence lawyers Quinn Melville, writes in it: “We act for Malcolm Barber in connection with allegations which have been made against him following an investigation by Lancashire police.
“As a consequence Mr Barber has been charged and there is to be a trial at Preston crown court in September 2013.
“Our client vehemently denies the allegations. He has given a full explanation in interview and has set out in detail his response to these allegations. Our instructions are that not guilty pleas will be entered at the next hearing in March and that this matter will be fought to the bitter end as Mr Barber intends to prove his innocence.”
The charges Barber, of Links View, Wallasey, face do not relate to his cricketing roles.
He is jointly-charged with Morecambe businessman Terry Warrington. It is alleged the men committed money laundering amounting to just under £5m between March 2002 and August 2010. They are also accused of conspiracy to defraud between December 1999 and August 2010 and failing to register with the Financial Services Authority between November 2001 and August 2010.