Woman guilty of embezzling £350,000 from British Red Cross

A finance worker embezzled more than £350,000 from the British Red Cross under the guise of sending money to former delegates and staff.

Mary Booth appeared at Paisley Sheriff Court. Picture: John Devlin
Mary Booth appeared at Paisley Sheriff Court. Picture: John Devlin

Mary Booth was “a trusted and valued” British Red Cross employee for 34 years and initially worked at the charity’s headquarters in London.

She earned £45,000-per-year and retired with a full pension and lump sum after working at the charity’s Scottish headquarters in Paisley, Renfrewshire. The 56-year-old siphoned £359,551.27 from the charity’s accounts, which she paid into her own bank accounts.

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She claims she scammed the charity so that she could continue to fund her online gambling habit after splitting from her husband.

She now faces jail and may have to sell her £350,000 home to pay back the money.

The details emerged yesterday when Booth, of Croyden, South London, appeared in the dock at Paisley Sheriff Court to admit her guilt.

She pleaded guilty to embezzling £359,551.27 between 1 November 2008 and 31 August 2015, at the British Red Cross offices in Smithhills Street, Paisley, Renfrewshire, and Moorfields in London, near Moorgate underground station.

Booth had access to the charity’s bank accounts and BACS payment systems, allowing her to send money to herself.

In February 2016, once Booth had retired, Deborah McBean, the charity’s Head of Control and Compliance, noticed irregularities in payments from the year before.

Eamonn O’Donnell, the charity’s Head of Transactional Operations, discovered there was “no appropriate paperwork” attached to a number of suspect transactions.

Procurator Fiscal Depute Scot Dignan said: “Mrs Booth had embezzled sums from the charity’s accounts, and salary payments, for foreign delegates’ payments and current and former employees, in to bank accounts in her own name.”

Once they discovered the money had been embezzled, the British Red Cross had the bank accounts the money had been paid into frozen.

Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, said: “We were devastated to discover that a long-serving employee in a position of trust had defrauded us. Every day we strive to help some of the most vulnerable people in the UK and overseas and for our trust to be abused in this way is really, really disappointing.”