Church of England official spent charity funds on 180 flights

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Martin Sargeant, 52, allegedly stole £5.2m while working for the Church of England's Diocese of London

A former Church of England official has appeared in court accused of defrauding a charity to fund a jet-set lifestyle including 180 flights in ten years.

Martin Sargeant, 52, allegedly stole £5.2m while working as operations manager for the Church of England's Diocese of London.

It is alleged that he defrauded the Church by requesting grants for funding for dysfunctional churches.

Mr Sargeant appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Friday.

He spoke to confirm his name, date of birth and address in Dudley, West Midlands.

In his post, which he held from 2008 until August 2019, he was clerk of the City Church Grants Committee.

He would steal money by transferring funds through bank accounts he controlled as part of his job, the court heard.

The money was then allegedly funnelled into accounts Mr Sargeant controlled and that were in his name, before spending it on "personal entertainment or frivolous things like gambling".

The court heard Mr Sergeant flew more than 180 times with British Airways between January 2009 and December 2019.

Mr Sargeant will appear at Southwark Crown Court charged with defrauding the charitable trust and money laundering in September.

He was granted bail on conditions he does not leave the UK, resides at his address, and does not contact any employee of the Diocese of London.

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