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Crown seeks £5m from man jailed in Scotland’s longest trial

Edwin McLaren, 54, faces having to hand over more than £5.3m to the Crown under proceeds of crime legislation.

Fraud: Edwin McLaren
Fraud: Edwin McLaren

Prosecutors are seeking more than £5m from a fraudster who was convicted after Scotland’s longest ever criminal trial. 

Edwin McLaren, 54, now faces the prospect of having to hand over more than £5.3m to the Crown under proceeds of crime legislation. 

Prosecutors previously sought £1m and then £3m from McLaren, formerly of Bridge of Weir in Renfrewshire. 

But now the Crown has revised the figure being sought from McLaren. 

The dad -of-two, who was jailed alongside his wife Lorraine, accused prosecutors of incompetence during a hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh on Monday. 

He said: “The figure has now reached £5m. When I was convicted, it was £1m. Then it was £3m and it was £3m a few weeks back. 

“It’s now £5m – the Crown seem to be in disarray. The people who are doing this don’t know what they’re doing.”

McLaren was jailed for 11 years in 2017 for his involvement in a £1.6m property fraud scheme. 

He was found guilty of 29 charges after a trial at the High Court in Glasgow that began in September 2015 and heard evidence over 320 days. 

His 54-year-old wife Lorraine was found guilty of two charges involving a fraudulent mortgage application on their own home and money laundering involving a sum of £128,000. 

She was sentenced to two and a half years behind bars but was released after nine months. 

During his trial, a court heard how McLaren preyed on vulnerable people by arranging for the title deeds of their homes to be transferred to his associates without the victims’ knowledge. 

The estimated cost of the 20-month trial was £7.5m. 

Jurors heard of the couple’s lavish lifestyle which included luxury holidays in Dubai and spending £100,000 on a ring for Lorraine and private schools for their children. 

McLaren, who drove a Bentley, was described by trial judge Lord Stewart as showing “breathtaking dishonesty”.

The fraudster left victims out of pocket and in some cases homeless. 

At a hearing last month, McLaren told Lord Arthurson that prosecutors were seeking to seize his £800,000 home in Bridge of Weir. 

Speaking about the proposal, McLaren said: “My home, which is worth £800,000 is now about to be repossessed. I’m very concerned.”

McLaren appeared from custody and sat beside his wife in the dock during the procedural hearing on Monday. She was represented by Jim Keegan QC.

During the hearing, McLaren, who is representing himself, told Lord Arthurson that he believes he is the victim of a miscarriage of justice. 

The court also heard that Scottish judges and the UK Supreme Court have rejected his appeal bids. 

McLaren said: “I have lodged an appeal with the European Court on Human Rights.”

McLaren also told the judge that he has reported his former lawyers to legal watchdogs because their representation was allegedly “defective.”

At the end of the hearing Lord Arthurson fixed a three day hearing in which he will hear evidence from the Crown about what they say is McLaren’s wealth and why it should be confiscated. 

The proceedings will take place at the high court between June 17 to June 19 2020. 

A further procedural hearing will take place on February 24. 


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