March 23, 2022 11.28 am

Fraudster councillor’s early release feels like “slap in face”, says fellow Tory

The former council leader’s jail term was cut short

A councillor who once taught shamed former council leader Giles McNeill feels angry that he was “released too soon” from his jail sentence.

McNeill was jailed for 14 months in November 2021 for stealing more than £30,000 from Conservative party coffers. He cashed £20,000 if forged cheques and pocketing £9,365 in cash, including payments to attend a Boris Johnson speech.

A proceeds of crime hearing was told McNeill made a benefit of £32,468.16 from his criminal activity which he used to fund his gambling addiction. However, the court heard McNeill has available assets of just £214.53.

McNeill, who has been released from custody after less than four months, was given three months to pay the confiscation order of £214.53 and will face a further seven days imprisonment if it is not paid.

Jackie Brockway, who is a councillor for Nettleham and Saxilby and a member of the Gainsborough Constituency Conservative Association, told The Lincolnite: “I knew the hearing was due, but not the date, and I found out from reading The Lincolnite that he’d been released.

“I was very angry. He was a public leader, he stole from us, and I do feel with elected councillors the bar is set higher than it is for other people. I feel he was released too soon.

“I was shocked (by the release). I felt the sentence itself was too lenient. To let him out at this stage is a slap in the face.

“I’ve known him since he was 11. I taught him when I was head of music at Cherry Willingham Comprehensive School 29 years ago.

“As a child at school he was trusted with various responsibilities, including small financial responsibilities. There was no hint anywhere that he would go down the path of crime.”

Jackie Brockway from the Gainsborough Constituency Conservative Association. | Photo: Lincolnshire County Council

When asked about the confiscation order, she added: “I was initially disappointed with the sum he was ordered to repay by the court.

“I now understand that the proceeds of crime order against him can be revisited in the future up to, and including, the sum taken if he gets increased assets.

“I have challenged him (Giles) on the Nettleham Facebook page for a response, and I am now seriously considering how best to approach him to encourage him to put right the wrong that he’s done.

“I really feel when someone goes into the polling booth and puts a cross against my name it is sacred contract and I take it very seriously. Voters trusted him with their vote and he was a good leader before all this came out, and I feel it could yet have serious repercussions for the residents of West Lindsey.

“I think there’s a case of a potential loss of trust and confidence in the council, but I am very glad that the due process at West Lindsey is so robust that none of these crimes affected the council.

“Lincolnshire Police in this were fantastic and bent over backwards to try and solve this. If anybody is in trouble and feels they’ve been defrauded. Go to the police, they will help you, don’t let the fraudsters win.”

Sheila Bibb, Deputy Chairman (Political) at the Gainsborough Constituency Conservative Association. | Photo: GCCA

Sheila Bibb, Deputy Chairman (Political) at the Gainsborough Constituency Conservative Association, told The Lincolnite: I found out via a phone call this week. It was always on the cards with the redactions allowed that he would be possibly released early, but I didn’t expect it to be in March.

“I am disappointed, but justice is what it is. We had a successful prosecution and he was held accountable for his behaviour and now as an association we need to move forward.

“My understanding is the (confiscation) order is ongoing so it does not mean the £214 is the only payment he’ll have to make.”

She added: “All our action now is centred on promoting conservative policies and values, and doing the things we’d normally do, preparing for elections and raising funds to support that, and flying the conservative flag locally.

“At the moment I have a job to do with my job at the association and that’s what I’ll be doing, which obviously won’t involve Giles McNeill. He’s not part of the association anymore.

“He’s had plenty of chances to apologise in the past and we (the association) have no plans to contact him. This is now behind us and we are moving forward as an association.”