Page last updated at 17:48 GMT, Monday, 29 March 2010 18:48 UK

Leading Reading pharmacist jailed for fraud

A leading pharmacist has been jailed for three years after admitting fraudulently claiming thousands of pounds from the NHS.

Charles Butler, 64, of Reading, who owned pharmacies across Berkshire and was a visiting university professor, claimed £175,000 in NHS expenses.

He was arrested in a London flat where police found sado-masochistic equipment and illegal drugs.

Butler admitted fraud, deception and drugs offences.

Southwark Crown Court heard he submitted invoices for more than £148,000 over six-and-a-half years to cover the cost of employing a locum who did not exist.

The arrest of the defendant at his flat in east London indeed exposed the somewhat murky double life he was leading there
Jeremy Lynn, defending

When police forced their way into his flat in Mile End Road, Whitechapel, east London, which he used while working in the capital, prosecutor Miss Deanna Heer said they found it had been specially adapted to be a sexual bondage venue.

Police found drugs including crystal meth, cocaine and the date-rape drug rohypnol.

Butler pleaded guilty to one count of fraud, two counts of obtaining property by deception and possession of various Class A, B and C drugs.

Appointed MBE

Jeremy Lynn, for the defence, said Butler had been a long-standing member of the Rotary Club, a school governor and a visiting professor at the University of Reading.

Butler was also a consultant for the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) and was made an MBE in 2006 for services to the NHS.

He said: "The arrest of the defendant at his flat in east London indeed exposed the somewhat murky double life he was leading there.

"The court had heard that included the taking of drugs both for recreational and experimental purposes."

Mr Lynn told the court Butler had contracted an unnamed medical condition while doing charity work in Africa and his treatment for it had left him needing psychiatric support.

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