News & what's on - Written by on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 2:19 - 0 Comments

At her Majesty’s pleasure. A right royal bribery scheme ends in convictions and prison “for quite a long time…”.

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Dickens JenniferBy Jennifer Burton, Solicitor, Pinsent Masons LLP

It has recently been revealed that Ronald Harper, a former Deputy Property Manager in the British Royal Household has been found guilty of conspiracy in relation to the receipt of over £70,000 in corrupt payments from companies which were awarded lucrative Palace contracts for mechanical and electrical work.

Harper’s conviction follows two trials that took place at Southwark Crown Court in relation to payments made by the former owners of companies Melton Power Services Ltd (MPS) and BSI Nordale Ltd (BSI Nordale) to Harper.

The directors of BSI Nordale, Christopher Murphy and Aseai Zlaoui, were also convicted of conspiracy to make corrupt payments to Harper. Former director of MPS, Stephen Thompson and Glyn Orridge, a subcontractor of MPS, had pleaded guilty to corruption charges at an earlier hearing.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Harper worked with an annual budget of £2.3m, and was able to authorise orders worth up to £30,000. This was funded by the Sovereign Grant, which is an allowance provided annually by the government to support the Queen.

David Durose, prosecuting explained that Harper’s job description was ‘to procure works in the most cost-effective manner’ for the palaces, and noted that ‘he had a key role to play in the awarding of contracts from outside businesses to provide services to the Royal Household’.

However, rather than following standard procurement procedures, Harper favoured those companies who had made payments to him. For instance, he extended a contract with MPS on a yearly basis without considering tenders from any other competitors. It was also reported that on one occasion MPS provided falsified quotes from two other companies that were higher than the MPS quote so that it would appear that the Royal Household was getting the best value contract.

Mr Durose explained that the corrupt payments were made to Harper from MPS through inflated invoices, and that he received payments totalling £55,000 between 2006 and 2011. Sub-contractors would over-charge the household for the work carried out so that Harper could take a cut. Former MPS director, Thompson, also received a cut of the payment for organising the deals.

Harper also received two payments of £10,000 from BSI Nordale that were made via Harper’s brother-in-law Alan Rollinson. Rollinson has been found guilty of money-laundering in relation to his involvement in this.

Harper can now expect to be staying in a much less palatial property of Her Majesty’s fairly soon. Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith commented that he was ‘certainly going to go to prison for quite a long time’.

Sentencing has been adjourned until two day hearing on 27 and 28 September 2016.

 

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