The charity which employed a Labour councillor who went on to steal nearly £100,000 from the organisation has said staff found the ordeal which led to him being jailed as “very distressing”.

Geoff Hammond, who represented Higham Hill ward, was jailed for 12 months after admitting stealing £99,493 from The Fellowship of St John Trust Association while working as the charity’s executive officer between May 29 2012 and August 2013.

A charity spokeswoman said: “This has been a very distressing situation for all those associated with the trust.

“We have ensured minimum disruption to our charitable work.”

Hammond, of Sollershott East in Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire, claimed he took the money because of mounting interest on debt repayments for loans and credit cards.

At his sentencing at Southwark Crown Court yesterday he apologised “unreservedly” and has repaid the money.

Hammond was in charge of the charity’s operations and administration, including accounts and records.

The money was found to be missing by internal financial controls at the charity.

A Waltham Forest Labour group spokesman said: “This has been an unfortunate event for all concerned.

“However, following due legal procedure justice has been done.”