Category: Yorks & N.Midlands; E.Yorks & Lincs
BBC ONE's Inside Out has revealed that convicted fraudster Kevin Jones, who was behind one of Yorkshire's most notorious investment scams, is back in business and has set up a new venture.
The English Land Partnership (ELP) sells land in greenbelt areas around Leeds, Kirklees and North Nottinghamshire on the basis that its value will soar when planning permission is granted.
But Inside Out (Yorkshire & Lincolnshire) has established that these plots are highly unlikely ever to be released for building.
Inside Out investigators posing as potential investors met a salesman from ELP at a field in Cookridge, on the outskirts of Leeds, and secretly recorded his sales pitch.
He claimed that the company planned to submit a planning application for houses on the site within a year and that Barratt's, the home builders, had offered £6m for the land, an offer which ELP has rejected. Barratt's has denied the claim.
They say: "We have never had any dealings with the English Land Partnership and we are very concerned to learn that it has been misusing our name in this way. We are taking immediate steps to ensure there is no repetition."
Leeds City Council told Inside Out: "The prospect of the land's greenbelt status changing in the foreseeable future is highly unlikely."
ELP admitted that Mr Jones was involved in their company but said it made checks to ensure land had not been mis-sold or mis-represented before their buyers completed their purchase.
ELP told the BBC they acknowledged Kevin Jones and Stephen Quayle were partners, and had past 'histories', but said they have "no direct contact with our customers and no financial control of The English Land Partnership, and the story of their redemption is and should be an inspiration to us all".
Mr McCallum - who drives a £100,000 AMG Mercedes sports car - contacted the BBC to say he was the sole director of ELP.
Leeds North West MP Greg Mullholland said: "It's pretty dodgy to put it mildly... the reality is that the plots of land are worth a few hundred pounds and they're being sold off for... 18 to 20 thousand pounds. Now to my mind that's a rip-off.
"I want to make it illegal to sell greenbelt land on the basis of future development.
"The Government can't simply wash its hands of this - this is something that can be done with changes in the law, and I'm certainly going to be one of the people that will carry on doing that until we get a change of law and stop this scurrilous practice of landbanking."
Jones spent five years in jail for his involvement in a number of fraudulent money making scams.
Thousands of people lost their savings when Jones' company Alchemy, the UK's biggest pyramid investment scheme, was shut down by the DTI in 1997.
He is believed to have set up ELP with former Alchemy director Ian McCallum and another business man called Stephen Quayle.
Notes to Editors
Please credit BBC Inside Out (York & Lincs) if any part of the above is used.