An Aberdeen pub boss, who came home one Friday afternoon to find tonnes of granite from Union Terrace Gardens in his driveway, has revealed his children have faced abuse since he flagged concerns.
Epic Group owner Mike Wilson’s claims that he knew nothing about the delivery have since been backed up by Graeme Cheyne, the builder who left it there.
Mr Wilson told us he raised the alarm as he has reason to believe other stone from the building site has been taken to a north-east quarry to be chipped.
It comes as police begin questioning key figures in their investigation into the saga – referred to as “granite-gate” by our readers.
Councillors this morning voted to task top officials with putting together a full timeline of events which led to the granite blocks, and even one of Union Terrace Gardens’ (UTG) instantly recognisable globe streetlamps, ending up on the patch of grass in Craigton Road.
Members are also seeking assurances on safety of the remaining granite – some of which is still understood to be on Mr Wilson’s lawn – given reports some had been taken to an Aberdeenshire quarry to be destroyed.
Police begin questioning key players in ‘Granite-gate’
One of those police have contacted as they piece together what happened is Councillor Ian Yuill, the Liberal Democrat group leader contacted by Mr Wilson about the stacks left on his land.
And he revealed the pub owner had been targeted by trolls since the whereabouts of the granite were uncovered by this newspaper.
“I was told yesterday by Mr Wilson that he and his children have been subject to abuse since this information became public and he is understandably upset by that,” Mr Yuill said.
“He asked if I could make it clear to the council that his intention throughout this, as he has told me, was to get the material back to Union Terrace Gardens.
“He did not ask for it to be dumped or delivered on his ground, and he volunteered the information which led to it getting back to UTG.”
On Friday, Mr Wilson told us he would refrain from commenting until the police investigation is concluded.
Sub-contractors Graeme Cheyne Builders had taken the stone – which is expected to be reused within the £28 million UTG revamp unless otherwise authorised by planners – to Mr Wilson’s property on the edge of Aberdeen as he had run out of space in his yard.
UTG granite heritage left in driveway in Friday afternoon ‘race against time’
Last week, Mr Cheyne told us: “At 4.30pm on a Friday, things are closing in on you and you are in a race against time.
“I thought I would get it off the lorry, put it there and deal with the consequences later.”
He knew about the spare patch of land as he had built Mr Wilson’s £2m home – and said the choice of leaving it there had “nothing to do” with the pub boss’ £1m lawsuit of his firm over allegations about buried toxic waste in his plot.
Since the mysterious events came to light – firstly through from Mr Wilson online – the main contractor Balfour Beatty has apologised for the granite being left in an “unapproved location” by the sub-contractor.
Conservative group leader, Ryan Houghton, had called for the full audit of UTG granite by top council brass.
He told us: “I’m happy council unanimously agreed my urgent motion a report to come following the conclusion of the police investigation.
“There has been a lot of concern about the removal of granite from Union Terrace Gardens, as well as associated items like railings and lights.
“This report will allow officers the time to have detailed discussions with the contractor, sub-contractor and any other party involved to provide councillors with a full account of what has happened.
“It will allow members to question the facts and to make sure any lessons needing to be learned about how we engage with contractors are learned and put into practice in the future.”