On Monday 5th December Lydd Airport Action Group released a press statement calling for the Kent Crime Commissioner –Matthew Richard Scott (pictured) to speed up a delayed Police investigation into suspected bribes accepted by Shepway District Councillors.
In a court case in 2011, the then Manager of Lydd Airport Zaher Nicola Jeries Deir made claims that he had given “gifts” to SDC Councillors.
Justice Foskett went onto to say in his judgement at Para 190:
“He (Deir) says that it is part of the culture from which he comes that this kind of approach is adopted. In the UK it is, not unnaturally, a sensitive matter and if any gift (certainly one over a certain value) is accepted by someone in a position of influence, it is customary for it to be disclosed publicly. The position is taken on behalf of the Sheikh that any such expenditure would be wholly wrong and contrary to the interests of the company. I am bound to say that I think that the position taken is a little too spotless in its connotation to be accepted. I am quite sure that, if the purchase of a gift was thought by Mr Deir to help in furthering the interests of the company, the Sheikh and those who were his advisers would not have objected.”
He further added
“I discouraged detailed cross-examination about these matters because it seemed to me that the time spent in investigating them would be disproportionate to the costs at stake.”
So the claims have taken over 4 years before finally being fully investigated, by Kent Police. The matter of the “gifts” was reported in Private Eye on 3 occassions. In Nov 2011 in The Rotten Borough Awards 2011, the “Brown Envelope Award” states:
“To Zahir Deir, former boss of Lydd Airport in Kent, who told a court that unusual spending patterns on his company credit card were accounted for by “gifts” to Shepway Cllrs who were to determine a planning application for a runway extension. The court accepted his explanation.”
The case which can be read here→ Deir v Athel & Ors  EWHC 354 (QB) (25 February 2011) see paragraphs are 188 – 192, was between Mr Deir and his employer Sheik Athel (pictured) who is according to the saudifal website, Chairman of the Board of London Ashford Airport and Lydd Air, London. Sheik Athel was allegedly involved in the Al-Yamamah arms deal where it was reported he took a “15 per cent commission agreement”, when “Saudi Arabian law allows agents only 5 per cent”.
Which Cllrs allegedly received “gifts” is not exactly known. What is known is that no Cllr/s reported receiving “gifts” from Mr Deir at the time or after.
We hope that the Kent Ctime Commissioner Matthew Richard Scott will urgently look into the matter. This case was first brought to Kent Police’s attention in February 2012, but it was April 2016 before the Kent police confirmed that the matter was being investigated (case reference number ZY/035502/14 in the Police National Database). The investigation is on-going., says the Press Release.
SDC’s policy on gifts states:
6.2.8(f) Bribery, corruption and financial irregularities
“It is a criminal offence for any person to use their position with the Council to accept or ask for any gift, reward or other advantage for work done in an official capacity. Councillors and staff must also act with absolute honesty when dealing with the assets of the Council and any other assets for which the Council is responsible.”
You can read Part 10 of the Constitution here → part-10-page-8
We do not intend to suggest or imply that any persons, companies or other entities included in this blog post have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly.