AN accountant has appeared before York Magistrates Court accused of a four-year £320,000 fraud involving 21 business accounts and the taxman.

Brian Ridyard specialises in handling the accounts of self-employed people and small businesses.

Among the 21 sets of accounts he is alleged to have mishandled are those for a beauty salon, an electrician, a transport firm, a security firm, a decorating firm and a specialist vehicle maintenance firm. Many of the businesses are based in North or East Yorkshire.

Ridyard, 63, of Duna Way, Kirkbymoorside, is alleged to have aimed to make £320,000 for himself by not disclosing the financial details to HM Revenue and Customs that all accountants are obliged to do by law, for more than four years.

He did not enter a plea to 21 charges of dishonestly failing to disclose information and thereby intending to make a gain for himself. Each charge relates to a different set of accounts.

The case was sent to York Crown Court where Ridyard will appear on September 1 for a plea and trial preparation hearing. He was released on bail.

All the offences are alleged to have occurred in Selby between January 1, 2012, and July 12, 2016. The total of the alleged gains is £321,542.

The most he is accused of gaining from a single business is £58,500 from a transport firm, the least is £571.