Eddie Kerr, the former charity director on trial for fraud, has said that he could have claimed two salaries for his work with SEEDS but did not as he believed this would have been “immoral”.
The 60 year old, whose trial continues at Derry Crown Court, said yesterday he worked between 60 and 70 hours with the organisation each week and that “a case could have been made” for him to take a second salary.
Kerr faces a total of 15 charges relating to funding applications and the acceptance of funding for the organisation from March 2009 to February 2011. Among these charges are that he received two salaries for his work with the charity
However the defendant strenuously denies this was the case, telling the court that he did not receive any personal benefit from the funding and that he had “reprofiled” the money within the organisation, allowing for the employment of one full time member of staff and one part time member of staff to help with the project’s work.
Giving evidence yesterday Kerr said that it was often necessary for smaller organisations to “juggle things just to keep going” and that he had reprofiled funds on the belief that there would be some flexibility on offer from funders on what their grants could pay for,
He said that SEEDS had been allowed to reprofile previous grant aid from OFMDFM and that he had assumed it would not be an issue to do so again.
“I acted in good faith at all times.” he told the jury at Derry Crown Court. “In my 28 years in the community sector in Derry I have always acted in good with and with the interests of the people we were working for in mind.”
Under cross examination Kerr was asked to explain why he had forged the signature of SEEDs chairman Paul Murray on grant applications.
“It was my understanding that under exceptional circumstances we could sign off on a document on his (Mr Murray’s) behalf. Let me be clear, I did not duplicate or forge his signature. I signed documents on his behalf - almost like a secretary would acting on behalf of a boss.”
He added that he “didn’t like doing this” and would only do so “in exceptional circumstances”.
“It was not good practice,” he told the court. “But you have to work in the best interest of your organisation.”
Earlier Kerr had told the court that the current situation had left him “unemployed and it is fair to say, unemployable”.