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Last Updated: Monday, 10 November, 2003, 16:21 GMT
Ex-lawyer sentenced for fraud
By Graeme Esson
BBC News Online Scotland

The High Court in Edinburgh
Manson pleaded guilty at the High Court in Edinburgh

A former Edinburgh lawyer has been sentenced to seven years in jail for a series of frauds totalling almost 3m.

Gordon Manson used forged documents and assumed identities to defraud banks out of 2.7m in property deals.

The 39-year-old also failed to repay a total of 70,000 he received from a former school friend and a Livingston company.

Lothian and Borders Police fraud unit detectives spent almost three years investigating his activities, which stretched across the UK.

A number of those who became involved with Manson have claimed that his activities ruined their lives.

Pleaded guilty

Detectives have told BBC News Online Scotland how Manson left a trail of people counting the cost of his activities over the course of a decade.

The former private school pupil originally faced almost 80 charges alleging 5m worth of fraud and attempted frauds totalling 20m.

However, he pleaded guilty to four frauds, an attempted fraud of 820,000 and breaches of company director's disqualification rules at the High Court in Edinburgh.

It has cost me 34,000 to come here, but I don't see any chance of getting the money back anyway
Niall Robertson
Former employee

Sentencing Manson at the High Court in Kilmarnock, Lord Hardie said it was disappointing to see someone of his standing in the dock.

"You were educated at George Watson's College, a fee paying school, graduated in law and were a practising solicitor," the judge said.

"You abused your position, abused the trust of friends and former pupils at your school and obtained 70,000 from them.

"You then set in motion an elaborate fraudulent scheme and obtained 2.82m from banks by fraud."

Manson's seven year jail sentence was backdated to April 4, this year.

Defence solicitor advocate Jim Keegan had previously described how his client had "deluded" himself and others while trying to maintain the facade of a successful businessman.

False name

"His behaviour is indicative of an individual who could not come to terms with the fact that he had failed in business and had gone bankrupt," he said.

He said Manson was "particularly remorseful" about the money lost by former school friend Gordon Fraser and his wife Deirdre.

They loaned him 40,000 in 1997 which he never repaid.

Manson also failed to return the 30,000 which he received from Livingston firm Multex Engineering the previous year to be invested in a company.

Manson admitted using a false name to secure a 900,000 loan to buy a property at 3 Randolph Crescent in Edinburgh in 2001.

Freed on bail

He produced a forged lawyer's letter which said he was a millionaire.

Manson was interviewed by police and subsequently appeared in court, but was freed on bail.

Then in September last year he pretended to bank employees in Aberdeen that he was Niall Robertson, who he said was authorised to represent a company called Braemar House.

3 Randolph Crescent, Edinburgh
A deal was done to buy 3 Randolph Crescent, Edinburgh
He said that the firm needed a loan of 1.8m to buy a property in the city's Union Street.

Mr Robertson was one of Manson's former employees, who believes he has been left more than 34,000 out of pocket by the fraudster.

He told BBC News Online Scotland that Manson continued writing to him from prison, promising that he would pay him back.

However, he also warned him that he would not receive a penny if he turned up in court to see him being sentenced.

"It has cost me 34,000 to come here, but I don't see any chance of getting the money back anyway," he said.

Ian Fotheringham from Strathaven, Lanarkshire, was one of Manson's early victims.

Mr Fotheringham welcomed the sentence, but said there was a lot more that could have come out in court.

"I would rather have had my money back but justice has been done, no-one could say he was let off lightly," he said.

"However, because he pleaded guilty it prevented a lot of details being exposed, there was a lot more which could have come to light and it meant there were people who did not get a chance to have their say."

A decade of deceit
10 Nov 03  |  Scotland
'Gordon Manson ruined our lives'
10 Nov 03  |  Scotland
'Deluded' ex-lawyer's 2.7m fraud
03 Oct 03  |  Scotland

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