A BANK of England employee was the prime mover in an ingenious plan to

steal up to #600,000 from the bank, it was claimed yesterday.

Christine Gibson, 44, was leaving the bank's note destruction plant in

Debden, Essex, at night with a fortune in used notes stuffed down her

bra and knickers, it was alleged in the High Court in London.

Gibson had an annual take-home pay of #14,600. Her husband Peter, 47,

was not known ever to have worked, claimed Mr Anthony Boswood, QC, for

the bank. Yet they ''lived the life of Riley,'' he added.

The couple, of Loughton, Essex, were said to have had two cars

together worth #34,000, two motorcycles, building society accounts,

jewellery -- and no mortgage.

Police took an interest in their fortunes after Mr Gibson went to

invest #100,000, in #20 and #50 notes, with the Reliance Mutual

Insurance Society in Ilford early in 1992, said Mr Boswood.

Mr Michael Nairne, 39, a colleague of Mrs Gibson's, also tried to

invest #30,000 with the society soon after.

The Gibsons, Mr Nairne and his wife, Sharon, 36, of Loughton, and

another employee, Kenneth Longman and his wife Janet, also of Loughton,

are being sued for the return of the cash, allegedly stolen over a

four-year period up to 1992.

All six were arrested -- together with another bank employee, Kevin

Winwright. But only Mr Winwright, of Mansfields, Writtle, near

Chelmsford, Essex, was prosecuted.

He served an 18-month sentence for stealing #170,000 in notes.

A police search revealed #30,000 in cash at the homes of Mr Winright

and his mother, and #600 in cash in Mrs Nairne's ''undie drawer''.

Mr Nairne claimed he had found #30,000 in his late father's flat, and

that his mother had given him #15,000. He also said he had made

thousands more renovating written-off cars.

Mrs Longman said she had been given money.

Mr Boswood told the Judge that the used notes were transported in the

depot in cages.Mrs Gibson had a key to some of their padlocks. While Mr

Winwright kept the guards talking, she and Nairne would remove some of

the cash, he added.

She would first hide the money in her underwear and then in her

locker, before it was allegedly sneaked from the depot.

Longman also stole #150,000 from the cages, said Mr Boswood.

The hearing was adjourned until today.