SEX, bribery and corruption have been human weaknesses since time began.

Crafty Cockney Maurice Cochrane knew that more than anyone. In the early 1970s his Rotary Tools firm had signed a string of lucrative contracts with the state-run National Coal Board, Scotts Shipbuilders in Greenock, and the giant Chrysler car plant in Linwood, Renfrewshire.

However, his way of doing business was far from legal.

Rotary Tools clients entertained at the Excelsior Hotel at Glasgow Airport were not just wined and dined.

They were also provided with the sexual services of beautiful young women, shown blue movies, supplied with pornography, and offered bribes.

Glasgow Times:

In 1973, the middle-aged Londoner, who also liked to be known as Big Jim, hosted the biggest party ever seen in Glasgow.

More than 4000 guests enjoyed a night of entertainment and booze said to have cost Cochrane £47,000 – £500,000 in today’s money.

The legendary jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie had even been flown in from the USA to entertain the guests.

The party at Rotary’s new city-centre HQ in Brown Street in Glasgow went on until 5am with people still queuing at 2am to get in.

There were hostesses on call to entertain the mainly male guests as well as strippers and other exotic dancers. More than 4000 bottles of spirits had been bought for the thirsty party-goers.

The late Scotsport presenter and football commentator Arthur Montford was hired by Cochrane as Master of Ceremonies and to judge a beauty contest.

A pipe band even marched down Brown Street at dawn to signal the end of the festivities.

However, Cochrane’s Rotary Tools empire came crashing down three years later when he was charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act with fraud and providing women for sex in return for favours. The five-week trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court engrossed the city with tales of debauchery, bribery and Cochrane’s bizarre eccentricity.

Glasgow Times:

The star witness was one of Big Jim’s so-called hostesses, a 25-year-old Glasgow-based Polish model. Her real name was Anna Lanska but she told prosecutors that she wanted to go by another name – Anna Grunt.  She also told of being paid up to £35 (around £250 in today’s money) to have sex with Rotary Tools clients at the Excelsior. It was even claimed she had worked with acclaimed film director Roman Polanski and appeared in a Monty Python movie.

During the trial a string of embarrassed company executives took the witness box to be asked about financial inducements or having sex with girls laid on by Cochrane.

The whistle was said to have been blown by a disgruntled former Rotary Tools employee who claimed he was owed money.

Cochrane was even accused of fixing his party’s beauty contest so that his secretary and later his wife Carolyn Schulz could win it, though that charge was later dropped.

By the time of his trial in 1976 the 51-year-old was reduced to selling women’s underwear at a market stall at Ingliston in Edinburgh to make ends meet.

READ MORE: Glasgow Crime Stories: The murder of Frank McPhie

Glasgow Times:

One police officer who had dealings with Cochrane was Bryan McLaughlin, then a young 27-year-old Detective Constable.

Now in his 70s, he retired from Strathclyde Police in 1997, after more than 30 years’ service at the rank of Detective Inspector.

Bryan first met Cochrane on the eve of the infamous 1973 party while based in nearby Cranstonhill Police Office.

Bryan said: “At the time Cochrane saw himself as a pillar of the business community but to the police he was someone to keep an eye on. I was sent to speak with Cochrane because he had made a complaint to us about a business rival.

“Flamboyant is the word I would use to describe him but deep down he was clearly flawed.”

When the detective walked into Cochrane’s Brown Street office for the first time he was taken aback.

It was more like the lair of an African big game hunter than the location for corporate wheeling and dealing. There were animal skins, rifles and spears on the wall.

Cochrane wore a traditional safari suit and a  helmet.

He showed Bryan a toy elephant called Ellie where he made people sit while interviewing them for sales jobs.

Cochrane explained how Ellie’s eyes would light up if he thought a lie was being told. He had a concealed wire running from his desk which he pressed to activate the elephant’s eyes. The personnel manager was a teddy bear.

Cochrane would sit with the teddy during interviews and use it as a ruse to size up and psych out applicants. He would get the bear to ask questions like a ventriloquist’s dummy.

Poor performing sales staff were forced to kneel before a china Buddha doll called Bung Ho and ask for inspiration when dealing with customers.

He also had an exercise bike in the room which he would cycle during meetings semi-naked.

READ MORE: Glasgow Crime Stories: The murder of Alex Blue in the West End 18 years on

During job interviews the former theatre actor would burst in and put on a dramatic performance.

He even had fencing matches with stunned job-seekers using the ornamental swords on the wall.

Bryan added: “We received an invitation to the party but it would have been career suicide had we gone.

“Cochrane would take great pleasure in showing you the elephant with its lights on and the wire he used to activate it.

“You knew if you were going there for a professional reason that everything that you were saying would be taped. As far as I was concerned he was a man that was more dangerous than useful.

“I always made sure when I was with him that I was also with a colleague.

“He was always good company and a great conversationalist. A loveable rogue if you liked.

“But you could never really trust him.”

During the five-week trial his lawyer, the legendary Ross Harper, insisted his client wasn’t corrupt but the victim of extortion by clients who wouldn’t give out the lucrative contracts without sweeteners.

Mr Harper famously told the court: “One man’s meat is another man’s Anna Grunt.”

Cochrane was eventually convicted of eight charges of fraud and given a 12-month jail sentence.

Though portrayed as a larger than life character, a dark side later began to emerge of Maurice Cochrane after his conviction.

In the 1950s he had been jailed for stealing a van full of carpets and later banged up for four years for burglary and theft.

Sales staff told of having to work until the early hours of the morning because the boss did not start until the afternoon. Many of them were up on tranquillisers due to the relentless schedule.

He was said to have ruled by fear, humiliating sales staff at meetings and firing people on the spot.

He would have mock trials with underperforming members of staff.

A spotlight would be shone on their faces and if found guilty sacked the next day.

In a later interview his wife claimed he was an emotional mess and took tranquillisers.

He even had to go to the bathroom at set times and had a phobia about using airplane toilets.

After being released from prison, Cochrane insisted that what he had done was common practice in the Glasgow business world.

He added philosophically: “I didn’t corrupt anyone who wasn’t already corrupt.

“This is a bent society.

“We started dishing out gifts and money because it was clear that was the only way to do business.”

However, Bryan says Cochrane had no-one to blame but himself.

He added: “It was no surprise to me and my colleagues that Big Jim came a cropper.

“We’d spotted the potential for trouble as soon as he hit our radar and we knew he would be heading for a fall. How right we were.”