25 Jan 2018

Duchess of Cornwall’s cousin facing prison for benefit fraud

A cousin of the Duchess of Cornwall was remanded in custody and warned that he faced certain jail after admitting “significant and sophisticated” benefit frauds.

Dru Edmonstone, whose great-grandmother Alice Keppel, Edward VII’s mistress, is also the duchess’s great-grandmother, ran scams against the state, Stirling council and Kensington & Chelsea council in London.

Using the names of his sister, his former wife, a former housekeeper and an employee of his 83-year-old father, Sir Archibald Edmonstone of Duntreath, he submitted bogus claims for income support, tax credits, carer’s allowance and disability living allowance.

Edmonstone, 46, who lives in a house on the 6,000-acre Stirlingshire estate that his family were given by King Robert III in 1435, also fraudulently obtained thousands of pounds in housing benefit, some for renting a mews cottage in Kensingston. Stirling sheriff court was told yesterday that between January 2014 and April last year, Edmonstone obtained £60,000 in bogus benefits, channelling the money into high-risk spread-betting.

Kyrsten Buist, for the prosecution, said that the scam came to light when his sister, Elyssa Edmonstone, who has lived abroad since 2010, inquired about “making additional payments to her UK national insurance account”.

She discovered that the address the Department for Work and Pensions had for her was not one that she had ever lived at, but was her brother’s home. Ms Buist said: “She confronted him in the presence of their mother and he ultimately admitted he had made the claims using his sister’s name and her NI number. He signed a declaration admitting he had made the claims without her knowledge or consent and the admissions were recorded by his sister.”

DWP investigators found that he had made phone calls to them pretending to be Elyssa Edmonstone.

Hanging his head and occasionally appearing to cry, Edmonstone admitted fraud. Other allegations were dropped.

John Mulholland, in mitigation, said that Edmonstone had been diagnosed with a personality disorder. He said: “His conduct has been bizarre.”

Remanding Edmonstone in custody for reports, Sheriff Wyllie Robertson told him: “Irrespective of questions of repayment, it is still a very significant figure and a custodial sentence is inevitable.” Edmonstone will be sentenced on February 21.

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