Former Sick Kids charity boss accused of making false expenses claims

Elaine McGonigle
Elaine McGonigle
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A FORMER charity boss is accused of faking a meeting with former First Minister Jack McConnell to claim bogus expenses.

Elaine McGonigle, 48, who ran a failed £15 million fundraising appeal for the new Sick Kids hospital, is accused of claiming £70.40 mileage for a meeting with the House of Lords peer which allegedly never took place.

She is also accused of faking a meeting with Stagecoach boss Ann Gloag, 69.

Altogether, the former director of the New Pyjamas appeal faces 13 charges of fraud worth £1855, which are said to have been committed between September 2008 and March 2010.

They all relate to her allegedly falsely billing the campaign for food, mileage, travel and accommodation.

In one of the charges, McGonigle is accused of submitting fraudulent expenses for three flights between Edinburgh and London for “work commitments”, when she had actually flown between Birmingham and Majorca with husband Alan and her son, Lewis.

Court documents also allege she claimed expenses for another flight taken by her and her husband to Bulgaria.

The meeting with Mr 
McConnell is claimed to have taken place on April 4, 2009.

McGonigle, who lives in Errol, Perthshire, last appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on October 17 but made no plea. She is set to return to court on Thursday for another hearing.

Launched in 2008, the New Pyjamas appeal was supposed to raise millions for the proposed hospital at Little France.

It had several high-profile backers, including Mr McConnell, 52, who posed with 
McGonigle in striped pyjamas to promote the cause.

The first charge McGonigle faces accuses her of submitting false expenses for £60 for accommodation at the Western House Hotel in Ayr on March 31, 2009 while meeting businesswoman Ann Rushforth, a meeting prosecutors allege never took place.

Next McGonigle is accused of claiming £165.55 in expenses for staying at the Holiday Inn at Glasgow Airport while pretending to be meeting businessman James Mortimer on April 5, 2009.

The third charge is over false expenses for £53.20 in mileage to an allegedly nonexistent meeting with businessman Nick Kuenssberg the same day.

Another allegedly fake meeting with solicitor George Harper on November 9, 2009 saw McGonigle claim £29.60, while £26.40 was claimed in mileage to supposedly meet businessman Donald McDonald on April 28 of that year.

McGonigle is accused of submitting more fraudulent mileage expenses of £35.20 relating to a supposed meeting with businessman Andrew Pert on April 28, 2009, while mileage and food totalling £75.17 was claimed for another allegedly fake meeting with multimillionaire Ms Gloag on May 23, 2009.

Another allegedly false mileage request for £80.80 was made for a meeting McGonigle claimed to have on May 23, 2009 with businesswoman Vera Weisfeld.

The tenth charge accuses McGonigle of submitting expenses for three flights between Edinburgh and Heathrow between July 24 and September 9, 2009, when she actually jetted off from Birmingham to Majorca for a family holiday.

The next charge states that she filed expenses for £548 for four return flights between Edinburgh and London from August 28 to October 21 when the flights had been for her and her husband to fly from London to Bulgaria.

A flight between Dundee and London on September 3, 2009, for which McGonigle claimed £68.70, was allegedly taken by her husband, while another London to Dundee flight on August 11, 2009, where £205.92 was claimed, was said to have been taken by McGonigle and her husband.

The New Pyjamas drive seemed to be going well until relations between McGonigle, the Sick Kids Friends Foundation and NHS Lothian deteriorated. McGonigle was suspended and made redundant along with ten other staff.

The charity’s 2010 official accounts showed that, of the £600,000 spent “generating income” by the New Pyjamas arm, only £100,000 was raised.