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On the trail of Dame Shirley Porter's missing millions.


Andrew HoskenToday Reporters - Andrew Hosken and Malcolm Borthwick

Eighteen months ago, the House of Lords condemned Dame Shirley Porter for "political corruption" and ordered her to pay a surcharge which, after interest, now stands at £40 million. But the former Leader of Westminster City Council told the courts that she could not possibly afford to pay because she had assets world-wide of only £300,000.

Andrew Hosken has unearthed documents that reveal Dame Shirley Porter is richer than she claims...
Why haven't Westminster Council recovered the money?
Dame Shirley Porter

Former Tory Councillor - Dame Shirley Porter

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Financial evidence relating to Shirley Porter

Is Dame Shirley Porter only 'worth' £300,000?
An email from Shirley Porter

New documents show she is worth far more....

An email from Shirley Porter

Is lying hereditory?
financial evidence

Read Email no 3
A Shirley Porter email

Read Email no 4
incriminating evidence

Email no 5 - not quite as poor as she claims.....
Many were surprised. Dame Shirley is the daughter of Jack Cohen who built up one of the greatest food retailers in the world - Tesco. In 1991 Dame Shirley owned Tesco shares which were worth nearly £5 million. Recently, the Sunday Times Rich List claimed she 'd been worth about £70 million pounds. She now lives in Israel and apparently out of reach of Westminster Council investigators.

She incurred the huge penalty after the district auditor discovered how she had squandered millions selling off council flats on the cheap to increase the number of Tory voters. Her final legal appeal has been rejected by the European Court of Human Rights.  An investigation by this Programme has revealed documents that appear to show her continuing to exert influence over the family fortune. Some of the documents that we have obtained are personal e-mails written by Dame Shirley. These e-mails show the influence Dame Shirley has over the family's finances.

Here is a note from one email ("All his property is charged. Only the farm in Vermont is available worth about $ 500,000. He requires about $2 million dollars now to get out of trouble, that will cost me $ 4 million..."He is not liquid. Must stop this self destructive behaviour. I have asked for an account of his holdings and what security he will put up and when he will pay back."  We have also obtained confidential spreadsheets, E-mails and confidential papers (see LINKS).

Senior council sources at Westminster have told us that no action is currently being taken against other members of the Porter family. "Disclosure orders have not been issued against John Porter or other members of the family. The city council presently has no basis for applying for such orders."

On February 11th, this year, Dame Shirley was ordered to disclose what interest she had in trusts. She has still failed to disclose anything in compliance with that order. The question remains, if Dame Shirley has a central role in influencing the family finances as a prominent forensic accountant and QC we interviewed told us, why hasn't the council widened its investigation to peruse third parties or other family members?

Email no 3  has details oabout a previous conversation she had with her son John Porter last September, after she told Westminster City Council her assets were only worth £300,000.

Email no 4 prepared in December 2000 shows Dame Shirley and her husband Sir Leslie as substantial investors in their son's company, called i-spire. These spreadsheets name two off-shore companies, Whitecoast Investments Ltd and Sunset Trading Corporation. They indicate that at that time, Whitecoast belonged to Dame Shirley, and that Sunset belonged to Sir Leslie. Email no 5 was prepared by the family's financial advisers PFM, entitled "Porter Family Loans", show that Whitecoast and Sunset lent either John Porter or his companies over $1.75 million during 2001. Our investigation has established that Whitecoast and Sunset are based in the British Virgin Islands, as are at least three other companies with clear links to the Porter Family. We also have details of bank accounts, belonging family members, in Guernsey and Switzerland, and of trustees based in Switzerland.

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