A COUPLE running a Black Country Toy Appeal that dishes out Christmas gifts to underprivileged children have been cautioned after an allegation of fraud was made.

Trevor and Eileen Fielding, joint trustees of Santa’s Black Country Toy Appeal, admitted the offence when questioned by police and have been given a conditional caution and ordered to go on a fraud and dishonesty course.

West Midlands Police confirmed an allegation of fraud was made and that the couple had admitted the offence after enquiries confirmed money given to the charity had been transferred into personal bank accounts.

A police spokesperson said: “We received an allegation of fraud last October after it was believed money was being withheld from a charity.

“Following further enquiries, it was confirmed a sum of money donated to the charity had been transferred to personal bank accounts.

“A 54-year-old man and a 60-year-old woman from Halesowen attended a voluntary interview in connection with the allegation.

“After admitting the offence, they both received a conditional caution and have undertaken a fraud and dishonesty course.”

The appeal was registered as Santa’s Black Country Toy Appeal with the Charity Commission in 2021 after many years of being known locally as Operation Santa which was co-ordinated by Dudley Council for Voluntary Services in Brierley Hill where Eileen has worked for many years - most recently as volunteer centre manager.

Since its launch in 2021, attended by the then Mayor of Dudley - Anne Millward, the cause has been highly supported in the local community, with Brierley Hill Market acting as a drop off point.

In 2022-23 it was one of the Mayor’s charities when Sue Greenaway was the borough’s first citizen. She raised a total of £36,845 during her year in office and promised a third to the toy appeal.

It’s understood the Charity Commission will be notified of the offence.

The couple have been contacted but have declined to comment.