A BUSINESSMAN could face a trial lasting up to a month after he denied a series of fraud charges.

Michael Smallman, who previously ran Newton Aycliffe-based fashion firm APM Clothing Developments, pleaded not guilty to participating in a fraudulent business as a sole trader between August 1 2012 and October 31 2013.

The 50-year-old, who appeared at Teesside Crown Court, also denied offences of theft and fraud concerning his former partner, Luliia Dow.

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Mr Smallman, of High Ridings, Richmond, North Yorkshire, is alleged to have stolen £1,300 worth of jewellery and 1,500 dollars belonging to the complainant. He is also accused of making a false representation by pawning jewellery belonging to her and, separately, using her details to obtain a loan.

He also denied several charges of fraud in relation to loan applications from finance companies including Wonga and Think Finance in August last year.

The court heard how Mr Smallman’s trial could last up to four weeks with more than 30 witnesses expected to be called, many of whom are former customers.

He has denied any wrong doing, saying he has “nothing to fear” from the prosecution.

The Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Simon Bourne-Arton granted bail. A pre-trial review will take place on October 17, although no date was set for the full trial.