Double life of 'laird' at centre of pounds 4m inquiry: Accountant with Metropolitan Police adopted village in the Highlands where his businesses employed about 40 people

Jason Bennetto,John Arlidge
Sunday 18 September 2011 07:26

HE WAS known as Lord Williams of Tomintoul, or 'the Laird', to the local people of the small Scottish village which he and his wife, Lady Williams, had adopted as their own.

To his work colleagues in London, he was Tony Williams, an accountant at the Metropolitan Police who earned pounds 32,000 a year.

The two sides of Mr Williams's life were revealed to the world yesterday after Scotland Yard Fraud Squad detectives started to investigate him in connection with the disappearance of more than pounds 4m from their funds.

Mr Williams, 56, who was suspended last month from his job as an assistant director of finance, spent most of yesterday at his Surrey home where he was arrested, and later bailed, earlier this week.

Speaking yesterday from behind the closed doors of his four-bedroomed home in New Malden, Surrey, which was recently sold for an estimated pounds 250,000, he said: 'I am under pressure at the moment.' A policeman, Inspector Geoffrey Briggs, who visited the house for five minutes, said: 'He is a normal looking, middle-aged man. As it stands now the gentleman does not want to have any contact with you.' This sentiment was later confirmed by Mr Williams's solicitor.

Neighbours in Carlton Road said Mr Williams was an 'English gentleman' who always said hello, but his wife, Kay, 47, was very quiet. They have two daughters in their mid 20s.

The postman said that mail was regularly redirected from their Scottish home. Letters were often addressed to Lord and Lady Williams.

Hannah Cragg, who went to school with one of the couple's daughters, said: 'Her father was always having work done on the house. A while ago he built a huge flash garage with security lights and gates at the back.'

Another neighbour said: 'They weren't an ostentatious couple. I remember once introducing Kay as Lady Williams and she didn't like it at all. She wanted to be known as plain old Kay.'

Meanwhile, the villagers of Tomintoul, Banffshire, which has a population of about 300, were talking about man they know as 'the Laird'. Nestling in the Grampian Hills, at 1,105ft, the picturesque village is the highest in the Highlands.

About six years ago after a holiday in the region he reportedly formed a company named Tomintoul Enterprises which bought several properties in the village, including the three-star Gordon Hotel, a restaurant, pub and tea room. He also bought homes, including a time- share at the Craigendarroch Country Club, which is used by the Royal Family during visits to Balmoral.

News of the investigation was greeted yesterday with surprise and disappointment by people in the village. David Abdy, a director of Tomintoul Enterprises, said: 'I was introduced to him as Lord Williams. I thought he was a real gent, an aristocrat. He seemed to be the lord of the manor and loaded.' Chris Haworth, the owner of Tomintoul Computer Company, added: 'People sort of knew he worked for the Fraud Squad, but I think everyone thought he had money through his family.'

Mr Williams's businesses employed about 40 people in the village and community leaders expressed fears for the local economy. Pearl Paul, a councillor, said: 'The employees in Tomintoul who work for Mr Williams are my main concern. What is to happen to them if this matter gets even more serious?'

The parish minister, the Rev Sven Bjarneson, added: 'People are very upset and disappointed. They seemed to be doing nothing but good. We are very concerned.'

(Photograph omitted)

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