Council worker sacked over charity theft claims

Mark Conlon has been dismissed. Picture: Jane Barlow
Mark Conlon has been dismissed. Picture: Jane Barlow
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A COUNCIL worker has been sacked for allegedly stealing clothes from a recycling bank that supports the Sick Kids hospital.

Mark Conlon, 46, was suspended last year after he was accused of robbing a significant amount of clothing from a recycling centre at Penicuik.

It has now emerged that Mr Conlon has been dismissed after a disciplinary hearing with senior Midlothian Council officials. He had been suspended on full pay since the allegations came to light in June.

It is understood that Mr Conlon has always denied the thefts, claiming he was removing discarded rubbish from the clothes banks and ferrying them to another site.

Bosses at Midlothian Council were alerted to Mr Conlon’s activities after a member of the public called the police hotline Crimestoppers.

The complaint was then passed to the council, and officials were understood to have reviewed CCTV footage at Penicuik and Stobhill household waste recycling centres.

Police said the case had been an internal matter for the local authority and confirmed that they had not received any reports in connection with alleged thefts.

A source said the father-of-three had been caught using keys to remove items of clothing from Nathan’s Wastesavers clothes bank at the Penicuik depot.

Money is donated to charities – including Edinburgh’s Sick Kids Foundation – for every kilogram of textiles collected.

Mr Conlon, of Lady Road Place, Newtongrange, is alleged to have sold the clothes to a “cash for clothing” business, which offers around 40p per kilo.

A council source said: “There are a lot of people up in arms about this. It was the lowest of the low.

“I don’t understand how he got a key for the units to start with. It was Nathan’s Wastesaver’s stuff – it’s a charity.”

He added: “To be suspended on full pay for seven months, it’s absolutely ridiculous, especially if they had the evidence there. It should have been dealt with within a month.”

Mr Conlon was not available for comment last night.

A source close to the council employee, who is believed to have been on a £13,500-a-year contract, previously said he strongly denied the allegations.

He said that Mr Conlon had claimed he had been given keys to the containers to remove rubbish that was being dumped there.

The close friend explained that Mr Conlon had moved the rubbish from Penicuik to the Stobhill depot “out of the goodness of his heart” when there was no supervisor to ask where he should dump the refuse.

Mr Conlon said there was a lack of council vehicles to move rubbish from one place to the other.

A spokeswoman for 
Midlothian Council said: “We cannot comment on individual staffing matters.”

No-one from Nathan’s Wastesavers was available for comment.

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com