A former boss at NHS Tayside has been cleared of a £32,000 benefit fraud.
Lorna Scahill had denied falsely claiming thousands in employment support allowance (ESA) from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) between December 2011 and October 2017.
Dundee Sheriff Court heard the 62-year-old had become seriously ill after being diagnosed with cancer in 2009 with her statutory sick pay ending the following year.
Mrs Scahill, of Station Road in Longforgan, later lost her job with the health board because of her inability to work and received her occupational pension thereafter.
Prosecutors alleged that Mrs Scahill – formerly head of medicines governance at NHS Tayside – had knowingly failed to declare the change of circumstances to the DWP that would have affected her ability to claim the benefits.
She was accused of falsely obtaining a total of £32,339.90 December 28 2011 and October 3 2017.
When giving evidence, Mrs Scahill told the court that her husband had filled out the ESA form, with Mrs Scahill only providing the signature.
Mrs Scahill said she believed the change of circumstances referred to by the DWP was in regards to her health and not any other form of income she was receiving.
She said: “As soon as the payments stopped I phoned the DWP. I phoned them on six occasions and every time I phoned I spoke to someone and they said they would look into it.
“I understood the change of circumstances to be my health and my ability to work. That was my problem, that was why I had applied for ESA.”
When responding to her solicitor Jim Laverty’s question about whether she knew she had fraudulently obtained the money, Mrs Scahill responded: “No, not at all. It is completely abhorrent for me to do something like that.”
Under cross-examination from fiscal depute Joanne Smith, Mrs Scahill was asked why she did not notify the DWP that she had been receiving her pension.
Mrs Scahill said: “I wasn’t really thinking about a pension. I was extremely unwell and I had no idea what my prognosis was going to be but it wasn’t good.
“The form was truthful and correct at that time. We were really only thinking about my health at that time. Our lives had been turned upside down.”
Following her trial, she was found not guilty of the charge by Sheriff Tom Hughes.