A FORMER Swindon Town general manager and a businessmen involved in a bid to take over a League Two team are to stand trial next year over a series of alleged frauds.

Among the charges faced by Stephen Murrall and Peter Harris is an allegation that they made a false representation that they needed funds to satisfy the Football League.

That was at the time Harris, supported by former Swindon Town general manager Murrall, was heading a bid to buy then-struggling League Two team Hartlepool United.

Harris was named as club chairman when its sale to TMH, standing for The Monkey Hangers in a reference to a quirky incident in the town’s history, was announced in December 2014.

In fact the planned sale was later said to have collapsed in February last year.

Harris aged 46, of Compton Court, Watery Lane, Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire, and Murrall, 48, of Mill Court, Shipston-on-Stour, appeared at Warwick Crown Court to face a number of charges.

Murrall pleaded not guilty to making a false statement with intent to defraud HM Revenue and Customs between April and December 2014 by creating a false to reclaim VAT.

He and Harris both pleaded not guilty to three joint charges of fraud.

The first of those relates to an allegation that between May and September 2014 they made representations to a man called Jonathan Rehbein that they were investing in a project in Malta.

It is said they claimed to have ‘preferred investment status’ in Malta, a contract signed by Malta’s Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, Dr Christian Cardona, and an agreement with Ernst and Young that they would buy out the project.

The two are also said to have made a false representation to David Marsden between November 2014 and the end of January last year that Avalon Investment Services owed £193,000 to Phoebus Entertainment – of which Harris was a director.

The final fraud charge alleges that Murrall and Harris made a further false representation to Mr Rehbein in January last year that they ‘needed funds to satisfy the Football League’ and that they had access to a further £200,000 in a bank account.

Murrall has also pleaded not guilty to making a false statement with intent to defraud HM Revenue and Customs between April 2015 and January this year by allegedly creating a false invoice to obtain research and development tax credit.

With them in the dock was Henry Kerr, 60, who has given an address in Wien, Germany, but is believed to be from Tetbury, Gloucestershire, who has denied a charge of fraud.

He is accused of making false representations to Mr Rehbein between November 2013 and May last year that he was the beneficial owner of shares in Avalon Investment Services.

After the three men had entered their pleas, prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith said the earliest date which could be found for a trial, which is expected to last for four to six weeks, was September next year.

And he pointed out that the witnesses ‘may include a fairly prominent Maltese politician,’ or someone from his office.

The court heard that Murrall and Harris will stand trial together, but that Kerr may then stand trial alone in November.