Fringe Society financial manager pleads guilty to fraud

Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Picture: TSPL
Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Picture: TSPL

A former financial manager of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society has pled guilty to embezzling almost quarter of a million pounds from her employers.

Fifty-six year old Lynn Taylor, who has been living in Portugal, pled guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today (July 27) to embezzling £220,331.12 from the Society between June 1, 2008, and March 13, 2015. Fiscal Depute, Aidan Higgins told Sheriff Frank Crowe that there was an agreed narrative between The Crown and defence advocate, John Scullion.

Mr Higgins said that Taylor had started work with the Society as a Chartered Accountant in 1994. In January, 2015, arrangements were being made for a new company pension scheme. Mrs Lyndsey Jackson, Head of Operations, asked for existing pension information from Taylor on at least three occasions, both in person and via emails between November 2014 and January 2015. Investigations showed that employer contribution payments were being made directly into Taylor’s personal bank account.

At a disciplinary hearing, Mr Higgins said Taylor was unable to explain how this had happened, but voiced concern that she might have overpaid herself. She was unable to give an exact figure, and said that she had been stressed. The Fiscal said Taylor stated: “I tried it once and got away with it and you get a little greedy”.

When interviewed by the police, Taylor told them: “I did it bottom line, no two ways about it, completely on my own without any involvement of any other person within or outwith the organisation. I am not going to deny something I did. It has totally destroyed my life and I am never going to work again”. She told the police she really did not know how much she had taken.

Sheriff Crowe was told that she had repaid all the money taken, as well as a further £40,000 for the cost of the investigation.

Mr Scullion said his client was at a loss to explain her behaviour over the years. She had, he said, been interested in horses and show-jumping and had overspent significantly. She had psychological problems with post traumatic stress. She had sold the house she jointly owned with her husband and was now living in temporary accommodation in Scotland.

Sheriff Crowe deferred sentence until next month for a psychologist’s report, telling Taylor: “You have admitted a very serious breach of trust involving a six figure sum, used for your own benefit and pleasure and taking money from a charity is something the court takes very seriously”.