Chapter 8

The ‘Laird of Tomintoul’—and how to get the right to graze sheep at Scotland Yard

There is some magic in wealth, which can thus make persons pay their court to it, when it does not even benefit themselves. How strange it is, that a fool or knave, with riches, should be treated with more respect by the world, than a good man, or a wise man in poverty!

Ann Radcliffe (1764–1823). (From The Mysteries of Udolpho, 1794)

‘Oi! What do you think you are doing?’



In one of the most extraordinary frauds of all time, a mild-mannered and middle-aged senior public servant working for Scotland Yard managed to steal over £5 million from police funds between 1986 and 1994. This smartly dressed well-spoken fraudster stole the money from a secret account set up to fund a covert police operation, right under the very noses of the most famous police force in the world.

It is absolutely staggering to think that not only was this possible, but that the fraud went undetected for the best part of eight years before this self-styled ‘Laird’ was exposed. Even then, it wasn’t the police that cottoned on to his fraud, but warning bells at a bank in Scotland that then notified the police of their suspicions.

So how did this all come about—and when could—or should—anyone at Scotland Yard have discovered the fraud? And what happened when it all finally broke?


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