SEVEN people accused of being involved in a large fraud operation at a charity have been told they will stand trial later this year.

The defendants in the complex case either worked for or were contractors at St Margaret's Hospice, based in Bishop's Hull at the time of the alleged crimes.

Five of them appeared at Bristol Crown Court on Monday, when they were told their trial would begin on September 9. A number of hearings to iron out legal technicalities will be held before that date.

Former St Margaret's chief executive Jon Andrewes, of Flood Street, Stoke St Gabriel, in Devon; Caroline Longstreet, of Tolland, near Lydeard St Lawrence; Paul Raymond, of Irwell Green, Taunton; and Alistair Gibson, of Stanton Drew, Bristol, all in their 60s, are jointly charged with conspiracy to make fraudulent representations, namely that they conspired to submit inflated estimate costs and false invoices to Hospice UK.

Also appearing in court was Robert Bardle, also in his 60s, of Haybridge Farm, Wells, who is accused of making articles for use in fraud, namely invoices for work not carried out.

The case against Andrew Howard, in his 50s, of Monmouth Close, Chard, and Kenneth Stevens, 49, of High Street, Keinton Mandeville, who deny making articles for use in fraud, were also mentioned during Monday's hearing in front of Judge Michael Longman, although the defendants did not appear in court.

The seven had previously appeared together in the dock at Taunton Crown Court in September, when the case was sent to Bristol.

The prosecution has drawn up a 2,500-page document outlining the case against the seven accused, who are all on bail, and the trial is likely to take several days.