Failed Sick Kids fundraiser sets up shop in Parliament

Some of McGonigle's products on display at the Scottish Parliament
Some of McGonigle's products on display at the Scottish Parliament
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A WOMAN facing fraud charges over the failed Sick Kids fundraising appeal is selling expensive handbags in the Scottish Parliament.

It has emerged that Elaine McGonigle, who was suspended as the director of the New Pyjamas campaign, has managed to secure a deal for her company, Ladywell Designs, to use Holyrood’s gift shop as a platform for her products.

These include Harris Tweed handbags valued at nearly £200, which are displayed alongside official Parliamentary merchandise seen by thousands of visitors and tourists every year.

It is understood Mrs McGonigle, 47, invested more time in designing bags and other products after leaving the £15 million appeal, which was supposed to raise funds for the new Sick Kids hospital at Little France but in fact made a loss of nearly £1m.

Her work, which includes woven notebooks and phone cases, is also being sold at craft fairs up and down Scotland.

She has taken the name “Eli Mac” for the purpose of the business, and is understood to be working from her home in Rait, in Perthshire.

At the Scottish Parliament gift shop a selection of her products is given prominent space. These include a Tweed messenger bag for £165, a Tweed tote bag for £95, a £40 notebook and a clutch bag valued at £30.

The procurator fiscal is still considering a case of fraud against Mrs McGonigle in relation to her role in the disastrous New Pyjamas Appeal.

She was arrested and charged in July, but court dates have not yet been fixed.

She is also facing a civil action at Perth Sheriff Court after law firm Kippen Campbell launched a case for unpaid legal bills.

The New Pyjamas appeal enjoyed a lavish launch and unveiled a series of commitments for the new £250m hospital.

Its role was to pay for equipment and research beyond NHS budgets, and schemes it pledged included a new drop-in centre and school for young patients.

But relations broke down between Mrs McGonigle and first NHS Lothian, then the Sick Kids Friends Foundation (SKFF), which was responsible for the appeal.

In January 2010, she was suspended and the campaign was wound up soon afterwards.

The Evening News revealed a series of rows between Mrs McGonigle and health chiefs, and it is expected once any legal proceedings are cleared up, an employment tribunal will take place between the fundraiser and the SKFF, which had to make ten New Pyjamas staff redundant after the closure.