'Lord' Edward Davenport jailed for fraud

Edward Davenport Davenport acquired his mansion from the Sierra Leone government

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A self-styled "lord" who boasted of having celebrity friends has been jailed for a multimillion pound fraud, it can be revealed.

Edward Davenport, 45, of central London, was jailed last month over an "advanced fee fraud" scheme.

The case can be reported after developments in a second trial.

Davenport and his accomplice Peter Riley, 64, of Brentwood, Essex, were each jailed for seven years and eight months for conspiracy to defraud.

Davenport owns a mansion on Portland Place, central London, which was previously the Sierra Leone High Commission.

'Flattering corporate brochure'

The building was used to shoot scenes in the Oscar-winning film The King's Speech.

Davenport's website features pictures of him posing with celebrities such as Mick Jagger, Hugh Grant, Simon Cowell and Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Start Quote

Its only business was fraud”

End Quote Simon Mayo QC Prosecution

He set up Gresham Ltd in 2005, pretending it was a respectable firm with 50 years' experience of sourcing business loans.

He would charge the companies advance fees to find loans of as much as £27.4m - but the money never materialised.

"To outward appearances it was long-established, wealthy and prestigious," prosecutor Simon Mayo QC, told Southwark Crown Court.

"It operated from expensive London premises and had a balance sheet showing significant assets.

"It had a flattering corporate brochure and used headed notepaper that lent an image of corporate credibility."

'Essentially worthless'

But he added: "That image, deliberately cultivated by these defendants, was entirely false.

"It was essentially worthless. Its only business was fraud."

There were at least 51 victims of the scam.

An Indian businessman paid the fraudulent company £285,000 to arrange a £156.9m loan.

Room used for The King's Speech A promotional YouTube video shows Davenport in the room used for The King's Speech

No funds were forthcoming and the court heard the victim lost £825,000.

In Austria a firm had diggers waiting to start work on a leisure resort after Gresham promised 32 million euros (£27.4m) which he never provided.

Also convicted of conspiracy to defraud was Borge Andersen, 66, a Dane, from South Kensington who was jailed for 39 months.

Davenport claims to be a lord but he is not listed in Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage, which is a reference of the British aristocracy.

The case can be reported after developments in a second trial connected to the scam.

The final defendant, David Horsfall, of Godalming, Surrey, admitted fraud by false representation.

Horsfall, Davenport's solicitor, had written a letter lying about how much money Gresham had.

David McHugh, 53, of Cheshire, admitted conspiracy to defraud by producing false company accounts.

And Richard Stephens, 65, formerly Richard Kirkup, of Sheffield, admitted the same charge.

All three will be sentenced on 10 November.

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