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Guernsey lawyers acting on behalf of Westminster Council are preparing a key stage in the recovery of millions of pounds from accounts belonging to disgraced former politician Dame Shirley Porter.
Stephenson Harwood has traced millions of pounds belonging to Porter to bank accounts in the name of trusts and companies in Guernsey.
The upcoming court application has been referred by John Fordham, the Stephensons partner handling the recovery on behalf of the council, to Guernsey firm Ozannes. Guernsey law requires court applications to be made by local lawyers.
Ozannes will apply for an English judgment to effectively become a Guernsey judgment, a process required before the assets can be transferred to Westminster. The judgment in question relates to a finding against Porter made by the House of Lords in July 2002, which made her liable for £37m, including interest, for unlawfully selling off council property.
In a separate upcoming court application, Ozannes will seek to prove that the money in the trusts belongs to Porter. It is expected that she will challenge this application. To do this, Ozannes will have to prove that the trusts are so-called ‘sham trusts’, in that they were used regularly by Porter rather than the trustees. Ozannes has already secured freezing and disclosure orders in Guernsey, which Porter has so far not challenged.
Porter’s assets include a substantial inherited share stake in Tesco. Fordham, who traced the assets to Guernsey based on information provided to him by registered agents in England and the British Virgin Islands, said he was unable to give details of the value of the Guernsey assets.