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Planning forgery allegations reach court

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A Glasgow-based architectural technologist faces five charges of fraud for allegedly forging planning permissions.

The former senior council official is accused of drawing up schemes for unsuspecting members of the public, then faking planning documents.

It is claimed that Stephen McQuiston ( pictured) would then tell clients that the council had given his schemes the green light, benefiting financially from the fraud.

McQuiston, 48, from Kilmarnock, denied all five charges when he appeared before the town's Sheriff's Court in October.

The allegations triggered a crisis in local councils, which have reviewed all building works from the past decade.

One local observer said there could be thousands of faked planning permissions in the Glasgow area.

It is understood that at least two significant schemes, one for three houses in Kilmarnock and another for 14 flats in the neighbouring town of Coatbridge, have had to be demolished since the fraud was discovered.

McQuiston was employed by East Ayrshire council's building control department before leaving for reasons that are unclear.

Two of the charges relate to work carried out for a Glasgow couple last year. It is alleged McQuiston gave their builder fake building permits and planning permissions, for which he was paid £522.

He is accused of pulling the wool over the same builder's eyes on a separate project. On this occasion he allegedly faked a planning permission from East Ayrshire Council for a house in Kilmaurs. He apparently gained £1,600.

It is believed the builder lost out to the tune of £25,000 after paying for foundations and preparatory work before the alleged fraud was discovered.

At least one council has urged members of the public who used McQuiston's services to come forward, leading to speculation that he could face further accusations.

There are also concerns over the safety of the design work he carried out. Officials are believed to be investigating at least one collapsed roof on

a McQuiston scheme.

McQuiston will appear before Kilmarnock Sheriff's Court today (03.11.05) but is unlikely to face a full trial before Christmas.

by Ed Dorrell

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