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Eight charged after probe into corruption around Scots NHS contracts

A major investigation into corruption around multimillion-pound NHS contracts in Scotland has resulted in eight people – including senior health board figures – being charged.

Former IT and communications chiefs from some of the country’s biggest health boards are amongst those facing a catalogue of allegations, including bribery and fraud, alongside the directors of an Ayrshire telecoms firm.

The six men and two women all appeared in court in private in recent days – six years after investigations were first launched.

Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie last night said the 46 charges brought to court were an “incredibly serious revelation”.

Labour’s Jackie Baillie

The Record revealed in 2015 how NHS Counter Fraud investigators raided the offices of Irvine-based firm Oricom, who had been providing phone and IT maintenance deals to a string of health boards, including NHS Lanarkshire, NHS Lothian and NHS Ayrshire and Arran.

Two years later a report was passed to prosecutors, with the Crown confirming it was considering information from between 2000 and 2014.

The eight accused made their first appearances behind closed doors at Edinburgh Sheriff Court over the last two weeks.

Amongst them are current Oricom directors Gavin Brown, 44, and Adam Sharoudi, 38, and former director David Bailey, 44, who resigned in 2013.

Sharoudi, of Motherwell, faces 12 charges, linked to ‘corruption in office’, bribery, fraud and Proceeds of Crime.

Brown, of Prestwick, faces 12 charges under the same legislation, including one of theft.

Bailey, who was listed in court papers as now living in Cheshire, was charged with six offences, one offence relating to ‘corruption in office’, another under ‘fraudulent scheme’ legislation and four charges of bribery.

Eight charged after probe into corruption around Scots NHS contracts
The eight accused appeared in private at Edinburgh Sheriff Court

NHS Lanarkshire’s former head of IT infrastructure, Gavin Cox, 56, from Glasgow, also appeared in court, facing two charges of bribery and fraud.

Alongside him was the former head of telecoms at NHS Lothian, Alan Hush, who faces eight charges.

The 65-year-old, from Edinburgh, is charged under ‘corruption in office’, bribery, fraud and theft legislation.

Robert Wright, the former director for health information and technology for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Scotland’s largest health board, was also in the dock.

The 60-year-old, who is from Hamilton and was known in his former role as Robin, faces two charges under the bribery act.

Former NHS Ayrshire and Arran employee, Rhona Orr, 61, from North Ayrshire, was also charged with three offences of ‘corruption in office’, theft and bribery.

Lynne Cox, 53, from Glasgow, faces a charge under the Proceeds of Crime act.

All of those charged made no plea and were committed for further examination when they appeared before a sheriff across two hearings on Wednesday this week and Wednesday last week.

They were all released on bail and are due to return to court at a later date.

Oricom Limited was incorporated in 2008. It specialises in the “design, delivery and ongoing support of telecoms and IT”.

NHS Counter Fraud Services, which led the probe, has its own investigatory powers and works in partnership with NHSScotland and across the Scottish public sector to reduce the risk of fraud and corruption.

Eight charged after probe into corruption around Scots NHS contracts
Oricom’s offices in Irvine were at the centre of the investigation

Jackie Baillie said: “This is an incredibly serious revelation and I am glad that it is being investigated thoroughly.

“Serious questions need to be asked of those involved and if criminality is uncovered, they must be appropriately punished.”

The Scottish Government said it could not provide specific comment due to a live criminal investigation.

A spokeswoman added: “We take the threat from fraud very seriously and through our counter-fraud strategy, continue to work with Health Boards to combat fraud against our NHS to ensure that health funding is used where it is needed most – treating patients.”

All health boards linked to the case declined to comment yesterday.

Professor Hazel Borland, Interim Chief Executive of NHS Ayrshire and Arran, said Orr was no longer employed by the health board, as of December 2016.

She said “As this case is currently with the Sheriff Court, we are unable to make any further comment at this time.”

An NHS Lanarkshire spokesman said: “The case is currently with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, as such, we would be unable to make any further comment at this time.”

Janis Butler, Director of HR and Operational Development at NHS Lothian, said the health board was “unable to comment on individual cases.”

An NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spokesman added: “This case is currently with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and we are unable to comment further at this time.”

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