A chief fire officer has been cleared of fraud after making a winning £500 bid on one of his own brigade’s Land Rovers in an auction he was running.
Stewart Edgar won the Defender – being sold off after reaching the end of its service life – after using a third-party company to put the bid in on his behalf.
After a week-long trial, a Birmingham Crown Court jury unanimously found Edgar not guilty on Friday, after hearing how he secured the 2003-plate vehicle, telling a colleague he had always wanted a red Land Rover for his daughter’s wedding.
The 53-year-old former head of Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, resigned from his £120,000-a-year post in 2018 just weeks after the sale came to light in an internal audit, triggering a council-led investigation.
Prosecutors had claimed the decorated fire chief, who was in line for an OBE before the investigation, had acted “dishonestly”.
However, the jury, clearing Mr Edgar, of Braehead Drive, Carnoustie, Angus, accepted his defence that he had made “an honest mistake”.
Having taken on the leading role at the Gloucestershire brigade in 2014, he gave evidence that he was “not in the right frame of mind” at the time, and suffering with his mental health, having later been diagnosed with depression.