Former West Lindsey District Council leader admits fraud and theft charges

The former Conservative leader of West Lindsey District Council today (Thursday) admitted fraud and theft charges involving over £30,000 when he appeared before Lincoln Magistrates.

Giles McNeill

Giles McNeill was leader of the district council from May 2019 until announcing in September 2020 that he was stepping back from the role for “personal reasons”.

At a brief hearing this morning McNeill, 39, of The Chestnuts, Nettleham, pleaded guilty to theft of £10,948 belonging to the Conservative Party and six charges of fraud by abuse of position.

He also admitted a further charge of making a false instrument by forging the signature of the counter-signer on 93 cheques.

The eight charges relate to different dates between November 2014 and January 2020.

The fraud offences were committed against the Gainsborough Constituency Conservative Association, the Association’s Coffee Club, West Lindsey District Council Conservatives, and the Lincolnshire Area Conservative Party.

McNeill was formerly organising secretary and communications manager for Gainsborough Conservative Association and was employed in a similar role by the constituency MP Sir Edward Leigh. He stepped down from both positions last year.

McNeill became the district council’s youngest member when he was first elected at a by-election in September 2012 at the age of 30. He represented Nettleham Ward and went on to become Council leader in May 2019.

After stepping down as leader he left the Conservative Group, but continued to sit as an independent councillor.

Magistrates today ordered a pre-sentence report and committed the case to Lincoln Crown Court due to “the complexity of the case and the likely outcome in relation to sentencing”.

McNeill was granted unconditional bail to appear at the Crown Court on a date to be notified.