A BUSINESSMAN has lost his fight to stop the authorities seizing his ill-gotten gains.

Russell Stirton, 53, has been ordered to hand over cash and property after losing his appeal against an order made under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Stirton was caught handling money believed to come from sale of drugs by the former Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency during a sting in 2007.

This sparked a long-running battle with the courts which saw him accused of extortion and laundering money through numerous businesses including a taxi firm and a service station with his partner Alexander Anderson, who has since died.

The Inner House of the Court of Session, Edinburgh rejected the appeal by allowing the civil recovery action to go ahead.

It was previously reported that Stirton had received hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal aid to enable him to fight the civil proceedings.

Linda Hamilton, the Head of the Civil Recovery Unit, said: "The Scottish Ministers have pursued this case with great persistence and our efforts have today resulted in a significant amount of money and assets being forfeited, which the court has accepted were obtained through criminal conduct.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill in a further comment said: "Today's decision shows that crime in Scotland doesn't pay.

"Scotland's justice agencies are persistent in their efforts to strip criminals of their ill-gotten gains and do everything in their power to disrupt gangsters who spread misery and fear."