Bank had deal with employee over thefts

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A FORMER Bank of England employee who spent nine months in prison for stealing from the bank's note-destruction plant in Essex yesterday gave the High Court details of a secret deal he struck to avoid further prosecution.

Last year's criminal action against Kevin Winwright, 35, from Writtle, Essex, heard details of only three thefts inside the bank's Debden plant, near Saffron Walden, totalling pounds 170,000. However, Mr Winwright told the High Court that he had also taken part in other thefts known to the bank, which were not mentioned in the criminal case as part of a deal with the bank.

The deal, the High Court was told, involved Mr Winwright giving evidence in the civil action now being heard against three former bank employees - Christine Gibson, Michael Nairne and Kenneth Longman, and their respective spouses. The bank alleges that the six systematically stole pounds 600,000 from the Debden plant and is seeking the return of that sum, repayment of lost interest and breach of contract damages.

Yesterday, the second day of the civil action, Mr Winwright told how, during one night shift at the returned notes department, he had told Mr Nairne: 'I wouldn't mind some of this.' He said that Mr Nairne replied: 'Are you serious?' When he said 'Yes', Mr Nairne then said: 'You can come in with us.'

Mr Winwright said that he acted as a 'look-out' for a group of workers systematically taking money from a secure vault area. He was paid a share of between ' pounds 6,000 and pounds 12,000 each time for his part in the thefts', and had been look-out 'six or seven times'. He also said that on 'two or three occasions' he had swapped roles, taking the money himself, and it was these thefts that were concealed at last year's Crown Court trial in Harrow.

The case continues today.