September 16, 2021 2.48 pm

Ex district council leader due in court over fraud charges

Theft, fraud and forgery allegations over four years

The former Conservative leader of West Lindsey District Council has been summoned to Lincoln Magistrates Court to face charges relating to theft, fraud and forgery.

Giles McNeill, 39, of the Chestnuts, Nettleham, was arrested in connection with fraud allegations last September.

Lincolnshire Police have now confirmed the charges relate to theft by employee, fraud by abuse of position and forgery, which allegedly happened between 2016 and 2020.

They have confirmed he will appear at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, September 30.

Councillor McNeill stepped back as Tory leader of West Lindsey District Council two weeks prior to his arrest, when it was revealed he had already been suspended by the Gainsborough Conservative Association.

He also left his role as communications manager for Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh.

His resignation as leader of the authority took effect from November 2, 2020 and he was replaced by Councillor Owen Bierley, his former deputy.

West Lindsey District Council’s former leader Councillor Giles McNeill next to his then-deputy Councillor Owen Bierley. | Photo: Daniel Jaines

Councillor McNeill remained a district councillor for the Nettleham Ward.

His departure sparked accusations of secrecy by opposition leaders, who said the silence from the council on his arrest was “damaging” the authority’s reputation.

He later sparked a voting rebellion when he was present for the vote to elect as leader Councillor Bierley, and fellow Councillor Paul Howitt-Cowan as his deputy.

Councillor Howitt-Cowan, however, was also later suspended from, and later left the ruling party after it emerged he had urged residents to spy on a local house builder and accused them of plans to illegally demolish a former blacksmiths forge in Hemswell. He was replaced by Councillor Anne Welburn.

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