Wedding planner in court over fraud charge

Guthrie Castle and Gardens. Photo by Wallace Ferrier
Guthrie Castle and Gardens. Photo by Wallace Ferrier

A wedding planner appeared in court today (Tuesday) over allegations that he scammed more than £144,000 from couples planning their nuptials at an upmarket venue.

Craig Williamson was wedding and events co-ordinator at Guthrie Castle in Angus - which described itself as a “fairy tale wedding venue” in a 15th century castle on extensive grounds that include its own private nine-hole golf course.

However, last week the company which runs the castle were forced to postpone weddings planned for 2018 due to “continuing uncertainty” after allegations surfaced that weddings had been double and triple booked.

Today, Williamson, 42, of no fixed abode, made an initial appearance at Forfar Sheriff Court.

Appearing in private on petition he faced a single charge of fraud.

The charge states that between July 2015 and April 2017 Williamson defrauded a string of couples by having them pay money in to his bank account having pretended that the account details he had given belonged to Guthrie Castle.

Appearing from custody Williamson made no plea or declaration to the charges during a two-minute hearing.

His solicitor, Billy Rennie, made no motion for bail.

Sheriff Jillian Martin Brown continued the case for further examination and remanded Williamson in custody meantime.

He is expected to appear in court again next week.

Guthrie Castle have declined to comment on the case since news of the alleged fraud first surfaced.

However, in a letter to wedding clients last week they confirmed bookings in 2018 were to be cancelled.

The letter said: “Due to circumstances beyond our control, namely the fraud which has taken place and all the continuing uncertainty, both in financial and reputational terms, that this has caused and after a great deal of thought and consideration the owners of Guthrie Castle Limited have decided to honour the wedding bookings for 2017, but they will no longer operate as a wedding venue from late 2017 onwards.

“It is therefore with great regret that we have to advise you that we are cancelling your wedding booking.

“We appreciate that this will be very disappointing news, but we feel it is in the best interests of both parties given the continuing uncertainty and we apologise for any inconvenience this has caused.”

It adds: “Once again, we apologise for all the stress and inconvenience this has caused and we wish you the best for your future wedding.”