Company director and council employee acquitted of bribery allegations
A COMPANY director and a council employee have walked free from court after being acquitted of bribery charges over the awarding of £2 million of local authority work.
Alistair McGowan, 67, from Pencaitland, and Mark Rankine, 53, from Galashiels, were told they could leave the High Court in Edinburgh after a jury returned unanimous not proven verdicts on the claims.
The pair were standing trial after prosecutors claimed the pair breached the Bribery Act 2010.
The Crown claimed that Mr McGowan, a director of a firm called MM Repair Services Ltd, gave a “financial advantage” of £131,652.90 to his co-accused, a Midlothian Council employee.
It was claimed this was to “reward” Mr Rankine for the company being awarded work to the value of £2,071,250.28 from Midlothian Council.
It was further alleged the payment was made from a bank account “in the name of MM Repair Services Ltd” to a bank account belonging to another company called MJR Construction and Country Services Ltd.
The Crown said Mr Rankine was a director in this firm.
READ MORE: Company director and council employee on trial on bribery allegations
The second charge alleged that Mr Rankine did accept the “financial advantage” from Mr McGowan.
Prosecutors claimed he accepted the payment in “anticipation of” and “in consequence” of an “improper performance” of a function.
It was alleged that Mr Rankine, “by his own hand” and by “the hands of Midlothian Council employees directed by him” added MM Repair Services Ltd to a “financial database of approved suppliers of services”.
These actions allegedly caused Midlothian Council to award MM Repair Services Ltd work to the “value of £2,071,250.28”.
The alleged wrongdoing took place between August 2011 and January 2018.
Mr McGowan and Mr Rankine pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Jurors returned the verdicts at the end of their second day of deliberations in the case on Thursday afternoon
Judge Lord Lake told the pair they could leave the court.
He said: “Alistair McGowan and Mark Rankine – by the verdict of the jury you have both been acquitted of the charges against you.
“You are now discharged from the dock and are free to go.”
Lord Lake thanked jurors for their service during the trial, which took two weeks to complete.
East Lothian Courier