Haulage firm boss jailed over £110,000 police escort fraud

James Campbell was sentenced at Airdrie Sheriff Court after pleading guilty to a charge of fraud. 

West of Scotland Heavy Haulage firm boss jailed at Airdrie Sheriff Court after £110,000 police escort fraud West of Scotland Heavy Haulage Ltd

The former boss of a haulage firm has been jailed for 16 months over a huge £110,000 fraud which involved police escort contracts.

James Campbell, a director of the now-dissolved West of Scotland Heavy Haulage Limited altered paperwork for services provided to the firm by police in Scotland and Wales and overcharged a Spanish company by £110,000 for the transportation of wind turbine parts. 

Campbell, 51, of Bearsden, was sentenced at Airdrie Sheriff Court after pleading guilty to a charge of fraud. 

The court heard how the accused falsified and inflated invoices from the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and South Wales Police over the price of police escorts to gain additional funds from Navarra-based Siemens Gamesa. 

Les Brown, procurator fiscal for South Strathclyde, said: “Fraud is not a victimless crime. This was a brazen example of an individual inflicting serious financial harm on an overseas company and its employees.  

“James Campbell was involved in a fraudulent enterprise concerning a significant sum of money. We take such criminality very seriously and will not stop at prosecution and have commenced proceedings to recover the benefit he gained from his criminal activities. 

 “This case demonstrated the ability of prosecutors and justice partners to effectively prepare and prosecute a crime of this nature and should send a strong message to others involved in this kind of criminal behaviour.” 

The Cumbernauld-based business, which specialised in transporting heavy loads, entered into a contract with Siemens Gamesa to ferry wind farm components to three sites in Scotland and one in Wales. 

Due to the abnormal size of the loads, they required a police escort to ensure safe transportation across roads and through towns.  

The SPA and South Wales Police invoiced West of Scotland Heavy Haulage Limited for the escorts and the company then incorporated that charge into their costs before forwarding the overall bill to the Spanish company.  

The contract stipulated that police escorts would be charged by West of Scotland Heavy Haulage Limited at cost price.  

However, evidence uncovered by officers at Police Scotland’s economic crime unit revealed that between January and August 2017, Campbell altered and falsified the invoices from the SPA and South Wales Police to augment the price of the police escorts to obtain additional funds from Siemens Gamesa.  

There were also instances when no police escorts accompanied vehicles carrying the windfarm components, but the accused still charged Siemens Gamesa for the costs.  

Concerns over the legitimacy of the invoices issued by West of Scotland Heavy Haulage Ltd were first raised by a member of staff at the Spanish firm in June 2017. 

The matter was passed to Police Scotland who carried out a raid on Campbell’s business address and seized a haul of electronic devices.  

A number of fraudulently inflated SPA invoices were also recovered as well as text messages which showed the accused communicating with a colleague in July 2017 about altering SPA invoices before sending them on to Siemens Gamesa. 

The court heard that the total amount fraudulently obtained from the Spanish firm in respect of all four wind farms was £110,000. 

Campbell will now also be the subject of confiscation action under proceeds of crime legislation to recover monies fraudulently obtained. 

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