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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 September 2005, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
Royal Mint boss cleared of fraud
Pound coins
Hector Williamson had a 33-year career with the Royal Mint
A Royal Mint manager awarded an OBE for distinguished services wept as he was cleared of stealing from his employers.

Hector Williamson, of Tooting, south-west London, was accused of striking a secret deal with the head of an African bank in a commission scam.

But after telling Southwark Crown Court an unaccountable 18,250 was money owed or to be passed on to others, he was cleared of conspiracy to defraud.

"It has been a 21-month nightmare," Mr Williamson said afterwards.

"I have lost over a stone in weight because I haven't been able to sleep or eat.

'Scapegoat'

"In fact this has all been so distressing last September I wandered out in front of a car, was knocked down and broke my ankle."

Mr Williamson who retired five years ago after a 33-year career at the Royal Mint, said he had repeatedly endured scorn from his neighbours.

"They were saying here is a man who was awarded the OBE and held his head up high who is stealing money from his employers."

He said he had simply been made a scapegoat after one of the Royal Mint's subcontractors - who had lost out on business - launched a civil action against the Mint and accused staff of bribing overseas bank officials to win business.

Douglas Day QC, prosecuting, said Mr Williamson had struck a secret deal with the general manager of the Central Bank of The Gambia, Junking Bayo, to split 38,000 in commission.

But Mr Williamson explained that most of the money given to him was promptly handed over to another Gambian bank official - the rest was for a solicitor's clerk, Mr Bayo's daughters' school fees and living expenses.




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