Saturday, 10 March 2012

Extensive Frauds and Forgeries on the Great Northern Railway Company - 1856

One of the most massive frauds in British railway history was exposed in 1856 when a Mr Leopold Redpath was found to have seriously defrauded the Great Northern Railway, the company for whom he worked as Registrar. It was widely reported and the Daily News detailed the following (this is a shortened version of the full article):

'The Great Northern Railway Company have been defrauded of an immense amount of money, in consequence of the dishonesty of one of its principal officers. Up to a late hour last night it had been proved that his defalcations amounted to 150,000l. The report is that 180,000l will not cover the amount, but no accurate estimate can be formed until the auditors can make up a report, an operation that will occupy some weeks. As soon as a the accounts can be arranged, the result will be made up for the purpose of being submitted to a general meeting of proprietors.

Mr. Leopold Redpath, of 27 Chester Terrace Regents-Park, was, until a few days since, the registrar of Shares and Transferer of Stock of the Great Northern Railway Company. Although his salary was not extensive, amounting to something between 250l and 300l a year, he lived in a luxurious style in a fashionable house, had a box at the opera, was a habitué of the theatres, a Governor of Christ's Hospital, and of the Royal Anne's Society, and a subscriber and director of many of the most prominent metropolitan charitable institutions. There was scarcely ever a fashionable party, and operatic party or a gathering of the beau monde, in which the name "Leopold Redpath Esq." did not appear...

...A warrant has been granted for the apprehension of Leopold Redpath, who is still a fugitive from justice. He is described as being about 45 years of age, 5 foot 10 inches in height, with fair complexion, brown hair. he walks in a hurried or "jolted" manner. He dresses well, but not foppishly, and his general demeanour indicates a person of extremely quiet habits and good position in society.

The directors of the Great Northern Railway appear to have been acquainted with the expensive habits of their servant, and to have been aware that 300l a year could not have met his expenses. Singularly enough, a feeling prevailed that he filled his responsible office simply of a desire of having something to do; and this opinion was confirmed by the fact that he made large contributions to many religious and charitable institutions with which the metropolis abounds.'

Taken from: Daily News , Friday, November 14, 1856

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