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Fraud cops probe roadwork deals; INVESTIGATION OVER AWARDING OF CONTRACTS; Two council workers quit after whistleblower claim.

Byline: Craig McDonald

A police probe has been launched into claims lucrative council contracts were illegally awarded to companies with links to an employee.

It's alleged items such as traffic signs and other pieces of road equipment were wrongly hired.

The claims centre on South Lanarkshire Council, based in Hamilton.

The activities of two council workers, Stephen Devine and David Morrison, are being probed as part of an investigation by council bosses and police.

Devine is formerly a director of two plant hire businesses based in Allanton, Lanarkshire, and Newton Mearns, Glasgow.

A council source said: "A major investigation was launched after a whistleblower raised concerns over where certain roads contracts were ending up."

Devine, 50, is formerly a director with Traffic Sign Services Ltd and Temporary Traffic Solutions Ltd.

Allegations were a few Traffic Sign Services were dissolved in 2015 while he resigned from Temporary Traffic Solutions last year.

Companies House documents describe Devine as a civil engineer.

His wife Geraldine, 38, who is listed as an HR officer, was also a director of Traffic Sign Services.

Devine last week denied any wrongdoing. Morrison could not be contacted by the Sunday Mail.

Both men worked for South Lanarkshire Council but are no longer employed there.

The pair resigned after an investigation was launched and disciplinary matters were raised.

But a senior council source said: "The investigation would not stop just because they've left - it's ongoing. Allegations were raised several weeks ago and an investigation has been going on for some time.

"Council bosses were tipped off to alleged wrongdoing and a major inquiry was launched.

"It's claimed the correct procurement procedures were bypassed. There are strict protocols in place when such allegations are made."

The Sunday Mail understands the alleged scam involved a contract being awarded to a company and parts of the work sub-contracted to another firm.

Temporary traffic signs and other equipment related to roadworks are among the items said to be involved.

Council bosses have contacted police, who are examining the information.

Geraldine Public sector spending on goods and services across Scotland amounts to about PS11billion a year.

Strict guidelines govern how the cash is spent by local authorities and the Scottish Government.

When approached by the Sunday Mail, Devine, of Blantyre, Lanarkshire, said: "I did work for South Lanarkshire Council but no longer work for them. "I'm now working elsewhere and any allegations of fraud are just nonsense."

His wife Geraldine said: "If the police are involved, then we'll hear from the police and we'll deal with that."

South Lanarkshire Council said: "We can confirm we are investigating this matter. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this time. To do so could potentially prejudice the investigation."

Police Scotland said: "We can confirm that information has been received regarding potential fraudulent activity.

"The information is currently being assessed to establish if there is any criminality."

Allegations were raised a few weeks ago and an investigation has been going on for some time

CAPTION(S):

PRESSURE Devine at home last week Pic Garry F McHarg

DIRECTOR . Geraldine
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 24, 2017
Words:513
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