Corruption

PUBLISHED: 14:20 06 April 2006 | UPDATED: 09:58 06 May 2010

Elisabeth and Andrew Bigby

Elisabeth and Andrew Bigby

A CORRUPT planning officer who took bungs to pay for his wife s cosmetic surgery and fertility treatment has been jailed for 18 months. Andrew Bigby, 41, of California, Baldock, accepted tens of thousands of pounds in bribes to push through planning permi

A CORRUPT planning officer who took bungs to pay for his wife's cosmetic surgery and fertility treatment has been jailed for 18 months.

Andrew Bigby, 41, of California, Baldock, accepted tens of thousands of pounds in bribes to push through planning permission on more than a dozen properties.

He then used the cash to splash out on three cars, a new kitchen and the plastic surgery.

Bigby also paid for his wife's IVF treatment and flew his friends and family out to Florida for a three-week holiday.

Elisabeth Bigby, 36, who helped her husband hide and spend the backhanders, was sentenced to eight months suspended for two years.

Prosecutor Amanda Pinto described at Southwark Crown Court how the greedy official changed planning records and pushed through controversial extensions during nearly three years of shady dealings.

He collected up to £58,240 in bribes which he split with his wife.

Bigby committed the offences while a trusted employee of the London Borough of Enfield where he was one of the most senior planning officers.

The Bigbys who were already earning more than £50,000 a year between them, paid off their mortgage and set about enjoying their new-found wealth.

Mrs Bigby, who worked in the environmental services department at the council, helped her husband spend and stash the cash in her personal savings account and at the couple's plush home.

Defence lawyer Michael Morris said the couple were desperate to have a child and had spent all their savings on IVF treatment after it became apparent Mrs Bigby would be unable to conceive naturally.

Once Bigby began taking bribes "it seemed impossible to stop and also due to pressure put on him by the people involved in it".

Judge Stephen Robbins told Bigby: "You knew perfectly well you were a trusted local government planning officer, a planning enforcement officer, and you knew well the gravity of the breach of trust.

"This course of action was so serious only an immediate custodial sentence would be appropriate.

"This action on your part sustained over a substantial period of time undermines public confidence and confirms unjustified public concerns about this sort of thing happening in a planning department."

Bigby admitted two counts of misconduct in a public office and two of concealing the proceeds of criminal conduct.

His wife admitted laundering the proceeds of her husband's crime.

l Elisabeth Bigby now works for North Hertfordshire District Council where she is known as Lisa.

A spokesman said: "We can confirm that Lisa Bigby is an employee of North Hertfordshire District Council.

"The council is aware of the serious nature of the offences and the sentence received and is considering appropriate action.


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