Piper Alpha charity fundraiser exposed as fraudster

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A FORMER neighbour of the Queen, who has been playing an active role in a charity fundraising drive, has been exposed as a convicted embezzler.

Last night the organisers of the £1 million appeal to restore the Piper Alpha memorial garden, dedicated to the 167 oilmen killed in the world’s worst offshore disaster, sought to reassure supporters after the criminal past of independent fundraiser Elaine Mclean was made public.

Mclean – then known as Elaine Broom - was jailed for five years in September 2001 after she admitted embezzling a total of £838,709 from her employers at Sub-Sea Offshore where she worked as a senior cashier. She had originally been charged with fraud totalling £1.2 million.

The court was told that Mclean, now 54, had taken advantage of lax financial controls at the company’s headquarters to fund a life of luxury over three years of “mind-boggling” madness.

She had spent the cash renovating a rundown mansion, Lochnagar Lodge near Balmoral Castle, and on fast cars, luxury cruises and spending sprees in New York and London.

Her involvement in fundraising for the Pound for Piper Memorial Trust came to light after details were revealed of her role in plans to raise £20,000 through a charity raffle and dinner, due to take place at the Hilton Treetops hotel in Aberdeen in June.

Mclean was said to be helping raise the funds with near neighbour Maureen Henderson, a Piper Alpha widow whose daughter Kerri, 24, was born eight days after her father David was killed in the disaster on

6 July, 1988.

Kerri told The Scotsman: “She is my mum’s neighbour. We obviously know her but we didn’t know what her past was.”

She added: “She has not done anything wrong.”

The Pound for Piper Trust, dedicated to the restoration of the memorial garden in Aberdeen’s Hazelhead Park, was launched by two offshore stewardesses, Carol Banks and Lucy Norval.

Ms Norval said in a statement: “We would like to assure people that the Pound for Piper Memorial Trust, which has charitable status, is run independently of individual fund-raising events. All monies received by the trust go directly into the charity.”

She added: “The trust relies on independent fundraisers to hold their own events and take responsibility for their fundraising efforts. We need to be able to put trust in people and given that the charity is run by five trustees, we have to put our faith in those offering support.

“It is extremely upsetting and concerning that the trust’s reputation could be wrongly affected by negative connotations – especially for those affected by the Piper Alpha tragedy and for the many people who are putting a lot of time and effort into raising funds.

“We hope people will continue to support and raise funds for such a deserving and poignant cause.”

Last week the trust held a ceremony at Hazelhead to mark the completion of the restoration of the gardens after Oil & Gas UK member companies donated £140,000 of the total £150,000 cost of the refurbishment.

Ms Mclean is no longer involved in any of the organisation’s fundraising efforts.

Yesterday, Ms Mclean said: “This is a good cause and this coverage is not helpful.”