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Last Updated: Friday, 4 June, 2004, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
Council convener quits over fraud
Eddie Aldridge
Eddie Aldridge had his sentence deferred for reports
The convener of Moray Council has resigned after admitting that he forged the will of a 93-year-old neighbour just days before she died.

Eddie Aldridge pleaded guilty to the charge at Elgin Sheriff Court on Thursday and will be sentenced later.

The Speyside councillor became the main beneficiary of Mary Coutts' estate, which was worth more than 100,000.

He initially said he would stand aside as convenor, but it was confirmed on Friday that he had quit the council.

In a statement, the local authority said: "Councillor Eddie Aldridge, convener of the Moray Council, has today tendered his resignation from the council.

It is a great shame that such a distinguished career has ended in this way after three decades
Angus Robertson
Scottish National Party MP
"An early meeting of the council will be arranged to consider the filling of vacancies which arise as a result of the convener's resignation."

The 64-year-old, who is due to be sentenced on 23 June, was not available for comment.

However, the Scottish National Party MP for Moray, Angus Robertson, said: "Resignation was the only option for Eddie Aldridge in the circumstances.

"Holding political office is incompatible with guilt in relation to serious charges, and fraud is a serious charge.

"It is disappointing that this announcement has come a day late but it does serve to try and minimise damage to the council and the offices Eddie Aldridge held.

"Despite our political differences we have enjoyed cordial and good working relations and I still respect his long-standing commitment to public service in Moray.

Police inquiry

"It is a great shame that such a distinguished career has ended in this way after three decades."

Aldridge, of High Street, Archiestown, Speyside, has been a member of the council for 35 years and received the OBE in 1996 for his services to local government.

By changing the will, he made himself the beneficiary of a 100,000 estate, 6,000 in savings and 39 acres of land.

But a complaint by Mrs Coutts' niece Lesley Miles, who lives in Derbyshire, led to a police inquiry.

Until his court appearance on Thursday, Aldridge - an independent councillor - had maintained the charges against him were "groundless".


SEE ALSO:
Council convener admits forgery
03 Jun 04  |  Scotland


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