(William) George Pottinger

1916 - 1998

Disgraced civil servant. Born in Tillicoultry (Clackmannanshire), the son of a church minister who came from Orkney, Pottinger was educated at George Watson's College in Edinburgh, the High School of Glasgow and the High School of Dundee, before studying at the University of Edinburgh, Heidelberg and Queens' College, Cambridge. Pottinger entered the Scottish Office in Edinburgh, where he rose to become a senior civil servant, latterly Permanent Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. He also served as Private Secretary to three Secretaries of State for Scotland. In the late 1950s he was seconded to support Hugh Fraser (1903-66) in developing a major new tourist centre at Aviemore. Pottinger worked with the English architect John Poulson (1910-93) who bribed his way to gain government contracts. Poulson bought Pottinger meals, clothes, holidays and built him a house in Gullane overlooking Muirfield Golf Course. The value of these gifts exceeded £30,000. In 1974, Pottinger was arrested, tried, convicted of corruption, and imprisoned for four years. His honours (CVO, 1953; CB, 1972) were withdrawn. He retired to Cambridgeshire, where he wrote books on history, and died at his home there.

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