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Wednesday, Oct 28, 2020

Top Brexiteer exposed as con artist who scammed £519,000 from James Caan

The Tory activist who produced Brexit: The Movie has been jailed for almost four years after conning a Dragon’s Den star’s business into investing £519,000 in his company.

David Shipley, 37, was the leading figure behind the film which encouraged Britons to vote leave the EU in the 2016 EU referendum and featured Nigel Farage.

He was sentenced to three years and nine months on Thursday after admitting to inflating his salary in photoshopped documents in order to convince entrepreneur James Caan’s company to lend him hundreds of thousands.

The Conservative first approached Mr Caan’s business Resourcing Capital Ventures (RCV) with a ‘Dragon’s Den style pitch’ in 2014 to request the loan for his start-up corporate firm Spitfire Capital Advisors Ltd.

To be in with a chance of securing the funds, he lied on a P60 form, claiming his salary was £377,000 when in reality he was earning under £60,000.

Gareth Munday, prosecuting, told Southwark Crown court it was ‘on this assurance’ that RCV agreed to fund Spitfire, as Shipley’s income proved his expertise in financial recruitment and would also be used to finance the business.

He said: ‘However the bank statements and the P60 were false. He later admitted that he photoshopped the documents but denied that he had done anything wrong.’

Describing Shipley as an ‘underachiever’, he added: ‘Between the years of 2011 and 2014 the only commission he had earned was £19,928.

‘Essentially he had not placed people and he had in fact left his previous employment over a cloud. He had failed to turn up for his employment and when asked he said his dad had died.

‘The company found out about the lie when they phoned his house to express their condolences and spoke to his father.’

‘When interviewed by police Mr Shipley said he had not done anything wrong, simply photoshopped his statements, it was a white lie.’

Benjamin Narain, defending, said the Tory had showed genuine remorse and the business ‘did not fail solely because of him’.

Claiming Shipley’s political career was over forever, he said: ‘He felt guilt and embarrassment, he is genuinely sorry for being involved in this offence.

‘He accepts the forged bank statements and P60 were wrong. However all losses from this business do not stem from that fraud.’

The Tory had undergone extensive tests for an undiagnosed illness in his throat and was awaiting the results for an MRI scan on his bowel when he appeared in court.

Mr Narain urged the court to ‘read between the lines’ and consider that Shipley was in ‘a lot of pain’, often needing to ‘shower and wash himself after’ bathroom trips.

However, a statement from a representative of RCV said they ‘would not have touched him with a barge pole’ without the forged bank statements.

Shipley admitted one count of fraud by false representation and denied a second charge of fraud by abuse of position between June 1 2014 and December 31 2017, which will lie on file.

Judge Martin Griffith sentenced him to three years and nine months imprisonment and disqualified him from being a director for seven years.

He will serve half of the sentence of licence.

Referencing Shipley’s claims that the photoshopping of the documents was a ‘white lie’, the judge said the Tory had ‘abused’ the company’s trust.

He said: ‘It must have been perfectly clear to you that that was a load of old rubbish. You must have known you were guilty of the offence.

‘You pleaded guilty and that resulted in a loss of discount because your guilty plea was not entered at the first opportunity.’

He added: ‘As far as I’m concerned medical reports show that you’re perfectly well for me to sentence to custody.

‘Thank heavens you haven’t got a [serious medical condition] and we’ve found that out now.

‘Your possible political career has now gone well there we are, that’s what happens when you commit an offence of dishonesty.

‘In your case I’m told that’s what’s happened. Good. A 37-year-old who cannot now pursue the possibility of a political career. This was just a blatant piece of dishonesty.’

A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing is due to take place at a later date.

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