£19k pension pot for thieving former West Lothian Council boss

A COUNCIL construction boss, who admitted stealing thousands of pounds worth of power tools, has pocketed a five-figure pension.

Colin Gibson, 60, was initially charged with carrying out an 18-year crime spree while working as a foreman at West Lothian Council.

He pled guilty to repeatedly stealing tools and equipment over a period of just three months – after being snared in a counter-fraud investigation.

He was monitored between January and May last year as part of an internal probe into the council’s building services, where he had worked since 1998.

Gibson resigned shortly afterwards, but is still drawing an annual pension of £6000 and received an additional lump sum of £19,000 from his pension pot.

A council spokesman said his pension was paid through the Lothian Pension Fund, but confirmed public cash will have been paid into it over the years.

Livingston Sheriff Court heard 89 stolen tools and pieces of equipment were found by police last year in six lock-ups owned by Gibson, with a total replacement value of £12,000.

It is understood some of the items were labelled “West Lothian District Council” – a body which has not existed since 1996.

Gibson’s defence lawyer, Darryl Lovie, argued the true value of the tools was closer to £3000, as many of them had been in a poor condition.

He said Gibson, who was in charge of looking after the storage of building tools and machines, took the items to mend them – arguing there was a background of wastage and disorder within the department.

He said: “His intention was to return them. He accepts he did not.”

He added Gibson felt “a high degree of remorse” and “deeply regrets placing himself in the position he is in”.

Gibson was previously involved in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and told the court he hopes to return to it – as well as eventually setting up his own business.

He will be sentenced next month, when the court is also expected to outline the amount he will pay West Lothian Council in compensation.

When approached by The Sunday Post at his home in Forth, South Lanarkshire, Gibson refused to comment.

He even played innocent when told he had pleaded guilty, asking: “Did I?”

Full details of West Lothian Council’s probe have been kept confidential.

But minutes from last year state: “In accordance with the council’s anti-fraud and corruption policy an investigation was carried out following a referral received from the building services manager.

“The outcome demonstrated excellent working relationships between the counter fraud team, building services and Police Scotland, the effective investigation of a serious allegation and the council’s zero tolerance of all aspects of fraud, corruption and criminality.”

The minutes also reveal changes have been made to the council’s whistle-blowing policy.

A spokesman for West Lothian Council said: “West Lothian Council has robust policies, procedures and a dedicated counter fraud team in place to support the prevention and detection of fraudulent activity.

“It is not appropriate to comment on individual cases.”

A spokeswoman for Lothian Pension Fund – a local government pension scheme – said Gibson’s employer would have to instigate any bid to reclaim cash.

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