THE FORMER chief executive of the Swindon Chamber of Commerce, Dennis Grant has appeared in court on fraud charges totalling nearly a million pounds.

The 63-year-old, who was later sacked from his role as chief executive of the Cotswold Water Park, said nothing when the seven charges, each alleging that he made false representations to gain advantage for himself, were read out at Stroud Magistrates’ Court in Gloucestershire.

The charges, which all date between November 2006 and January 2009 allege he made false representations to companies or to their representatives that he knew were untrue and had money which should have been paid to the Cotswold Water Park paid into his own accounts.

The total amount involved is just over £707,000.

Grant only spoke to acknowledge his name throughout the 15 minute hearing.

Garth Waite, defending, said no pleas would be entered, and Mary Harley prosecuting, asked the bench to commit Grant to the crown court for trial.

She said there was a considerable amount of money involved and the case involved a breach of trust over a long period of time. She suggested that the sentencing powers of the magistrates would be insufficient in such a case, and the bench agreed.

Mr Waite asked for a variation in Grant’s bail conditions so that instead of having to report to the Banbury police station twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday, he would only have to report on Thursdays.

He said Grant had already surrendered his passport voluntarily, and the prosecution made this officially a condition of his bail, which already includes a condition prohibiting him from leaving the country.

The charges followed a complaint made by the Cotswold Water Park a year ago which led to an investigation by Gloucestershire Constabulary’s economic crime unit.

Originally Grant and the water park’s finance director Nick Hanson were under investigation, but Mr Hanson, 47, collapsed and died last September at his home in Coventry.

At the time of his death he had been dismissed along with Mr Grant. The Cotswold Water Park was formed in the 1960s from the dozens of pits left by widespread gravel extraction.

They have been turned into 150 lakes around the village of South Cerney, near Cirencester, and the area is now home to 20,000 people, many living in idyllic waterside lodges worth millions.

The water park has become a major player in the UK’s tourist industry, housing 850 businesses and receiving 500,000 visitors a year.

At the time of the arrest of the two men last April Cotswold Water Park Society said it had launched its own inquiry.