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Council officer jailed for £100,000 construction scam

23 Nov 11 The former head of a local authority asbestos department has been jailed for his part in a £100,000 building scam.

Michael Skirving was part of a racket in which two other men, Martin Dougherty and James Burns, submitted bogus invoices to the council for work that was not carried out.

They were all handed prison sentences, along with Graeme Storey who told lies to police during the investigation.

The four men from Hartlepool were jailed at Teesside Crown Court yesterday.

Dougherty’s business MBN Roofing and Builders was paid £75,000 after submitting 15 fake invoices for work on jobs in Hartlepool, Billingham and Middlesbrough.

Skirving emailed Dougherty with instructions of what to put on the paperwork.

Burns submitted invoices through his James Print and Design firm totalling £33,000 for the supply of a cherrypicker in connection with work in Owton Manor, Hartlepool.

But the prosecution said it was not needed or provided to the extent that Burns claimed.

Skirving later put forward Storey as a worker to try to prove the work was done.

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He was found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice on May 21 last year.

Since being found guilty, Skirving also admitted a further fraud after forging an asbestos removal licence when he carried out work for Redcar and Cleveland Council in June last year.

Sentencing, Judge Peter Armstrong, said: “It is impossible, I’m afraid, to avoid an immediate custodial sentence in respect of that sort of money and that sort of fraud.

“This was systematic fraud, getting money out of the local authority, so these are serious offences.”

A spokeswoman for Darlington Borough Council said: “This case illustrates that dishonesty and fraud will not be tolerated by the council.

“We have systems in place to ensure that dealings of this kind will be detected and dealt with appropriately and we will not hesitate to involve the police and take court action where necessary.

“The council has taken appropriate measures to recover the monies lost.”

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