Trotskyist councillor caught up in far left turmoil: rape allegations against comrade

Poster displayed by militant feminists at Liverpool Hope University. H&D does not know and cannot verify the truth or falsehood of these allegations, but reports the ongoing dispute as a matter of public interest.

Britain’s most successful far left organisation – the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) – is falling apart because of rape allegations against one of its leaders, who had also been the key organiser of the ‘anti-racist’ campaigns Unite Against Fascism and Love Music Hate Racism.

Internal SWP reports refer to the accused party official only as Comrade Delta, but he has been widely identified by fellow leftists as Martin Smith, long serving national secretary of the party who was convicted in September 2010 of assaulting a police officer at an ‘anti-fascist’ demonstration against BNP leader Nick Griffin’s appearance on the BBC’s Question Time.  Detailed rape allegations dating back four or five years were made against Smith by a female SWP member.  She was 17 at the time: Smith was almost 50.

Smith’s colleagues on the party’s central committee held an enquiry chaired by the Manchester trade union activist Karen Reissman.  They voted 6-1 to dismiss the allegations, but the party membership was more evenly split, voting 231-209 in his facour.  Most importantly, many prominent activists were so disgusted by the SWP’s handling of the affair that they quit, and in some cases leaked important documents about the case to rival leftist factions.

A few months ago Smith bowed to the inevitable and resigned his party positions, though retaining the support of his cronies at the top of the SWP.  The latest twist in the case is that Smith has been awarded what (in today’s much cut back educational world) is a rare funded place to study for a doctorate at Liverpool Hope University.

Feminists and anti-rape campaigners in Liverpool are outraged, and have directed their anger not only at Smith but at his fellow SWP activist Michael Lavalette, who heads the social work department at the university.  Several left-wing blogs have alleged that Lavalette was involved in arranging his comrade’s placement at Liverpool Hope (formerly known as the Liverpool Institute of Higher Education).

Obviously we have no way of knowing the truth of these charges, but here at H&D we have encountered Lavalette many times.  He is a councillor on Preston City Council, one of the very few Trotskyists ever to enjoy electoral success, having defeated Labour three times in the heavily Asian ward known as Town Centre.

Who will win this titanic battle between Trotskyists and Feminists?  How will Cllr Lavalette’s many Muslim voters react, as they probably have little sympathy with either of these Western bourgeois ideologies?  Will Comrade Delta become Doctor Delta and win back his position in the vanguard of the revolution?

Only one thing remains certain: the SWP and its myriad far left rivals will continue to offer no hope for the betrayed workers of 21st century Britain.

Michael Lavalette (centre) in happier days after winning re-election to Preston City Council in 2012.

Martin Smith speaking at an ‘anti-fascist’ demonstration in Amsterdam in 2010.

The Preston Mafia exposed

Preston's former deputy leader Frank McGrath

Preston's former deputy leader Frank McGrath

The England First Party has made political corruption in Preston a major campaign issue in the 2012 local elections.  Leaflets have gone out in the past week across Ribbleton ward highlighting the case of Frank McGrath, former deputy leader of Preston City Council, who in March 2010 was convicted of laundering money for a major drug trafficker and jailed for four and a half years.

Our leaflet, published in support of Mark Cotterill, the EFP’s anti-corruption candidate for Ribbleton, pointed out that McGrath – who was one of the leaders of the “Preston Mafia” whose influence extended across much of Lancashire  – had been ordered to pay almost £1 million.  This represented profits from criminal activity.

Today that anti-corruption campaign has been dramatically vindicated, as former councillor McGrath has been ordered to spend a further two years in jail.  He still owes more than £400,000 of his ill-gotten criminal loot.

The England First Party calls for a full inquiry into Labour’s “Preston Mafia” and the web of corruption that Lancashire police tried but failed to uproot during the 1990s.  Both the Labour and Conservative parties have questions to answer about this corruption scandal – especially with a new Lancashire Police Commissioner due to be elected later this year.

Click here for a full investigation of the Preston Mafia, which will be extended later this week.

England First Party exposes Preston Mafia

Harold Parker. Preston City Council leader (1982-92) and Guild Mayor (1992)

Harold Parker. Preston City Council leader (1982-92) and Guild Mayor (1992)

2012 is a Guild year in Preston – a year when Prestonians are meant to be proud of their home city.  Preston Guild is a unique civic celebration, held every twenty years since 1328.

Yet this year there is a shadow over Preston Guild – a ghost at the feast.

For the record of the man who was Preston’s Guild Mayor at the last festivities, and who had led the City Council for the previous decade – the late Cllr Harold Parker – is again under scrutiny as part of an investigation into what was termed the “Preston Mafia”, a description coined not by political opponents but by his own Borough Treasurer!

The England First Party believes that both the Labour and Conservative Parties have serious questions to answer about corruption and political chicanery in Preston, and that a full enquiry is needed to get to the bottom of the scandal.

—–

On 24th April 2012 the disgraced Labour politician Frank McGrath was ordered to serve a further two year prison sentence, after failing to obey a court order to repay almost £1 million of the proceeds from his life of crime.  This in itself might seem bad enough: but to understand the full dimensions of the affair we must look back to 7th August 1991, when a team of twenty Lancashire Police detectives carried out simultaneous raids across Preston.

The targets of these police raids included Preston Town Hall and the homes and offices of Cllr Harold Parker, leader of the council since 1982, and his deputy Cllr Frank McGrath.

OwenOyston

Property tycoon and rapist Owen Oyston, seen here attending a Labour Party fundraising event.

Rumours had been circulating for years about the improper business relationship between these two senior Preston councillors and Owen Oyston, a millionaire businessman and supporter of the Labour Party, featured as early as March 1984 in an investigation by the BBC’s Watchdog programme.   A particular focus of these investigations was the redevelopment of Preston Docks.

Cllr Harold Parker effectively controlled Preston Council’s decisions over the dockland development while being paid a £450 monthly retainer by Oyston, who had a major financial interest in the project, and receiving numerous other benefits in kind from Oyston interests.  Meanwhile his deputy leader Cllr McGrath became a millionaire in 1987 through his investment in Oyston’s company Red Rose Radio, which owned local radio stations in Preston, Manchester, Leeds and Cardiff.

The police raids in 1991 were codenamed ‘Operation Angel’ and led to criminal charges against Frank McGrath and several of Preston Council’s most senior officials, including the chief executive and deputy chief executive.  Also raided were the offices of Tustin Developments, a company owned by Iranian exile Hossein Ghiassi and his California-based brother, who had won substantial contracts for the Preston Docklands project.

Frank McGrath was charged with multiple counts of fraud and theft in January 1992.  Yet despite millions of pounds being spent on ‘Operation Angel’, his trial and almost all of the subsequent ones collapsed.  It now seems that the interests of justice took second place to political machinations.  Much of the campaign against Owen Oyston and his corrupt Labour cronies had been funded and organised secretly by prominent Conservatives, notably:

Lord (then Sir Peter) Blaker greeting President Zia of Pakistan

Lord (then Sir Peter) Blaker greeting President Zia of Pakistan

  • Lord Blaker, former Conservative MP for Blackpool South, who served as a Foreign Office and Defence minister in Mrs Thatcher’s governments during the 1980s.  He died in 2009.
  • Sir Robert Atkins, Conservative MP for Preston North from 1979 to 1997 and an MEP for North West England from 1999 to 2009.
  • Bill Harrison, property tycoon and millionaire Tory donor who regularly hosted Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at his Preston home during her visits to the North West.  He died in August 1999.  (Like his arch-enemy Frank McGrath, Mr Harrison lived in the affluent Preston suburb of Fulwood, though in even grander style at Greyfriars Hall.)

This Tory trio worked through local Preston residents activist Michael Murrin and Blackpool based private detective Chris More, who managed to access the confidential bank and income tax details of Cllrs Parker and McGrath.  Yet when it came to prosecuting the targets of Operation Angel, the Tory party at national level proved most unhelpful, as did some very senior police officers.

Mrs Thatcher’s Attorney General Nicholas Lyell prevented the release of files implicating Balfour Beatty, the construction giant and major Tory donor, in the web of corruption surrounding the Preston Docklands development.  This was very good news for Labour’s Cllr Frank McGrath, as it seriously handicapped the Operation Angel investigation into his affairs.

Mark Thatcher's involvement in the controversial Pergau Dam contract in Malaysia, by a quirk of fate, helped save some of Preston's Labour Mafia from prosecution

Mark Thatcher's involvement in the controversial Pergau Dam contract in Malaysia, by a quirk of fate, helped save some of Preston's Labour Mafia from prosecution

Fortunately for McGrath, although the Conservative Party were no friends of his, they were on very friendly terms indeed with Balfour Beatty, which had been founded a century ago by the Conservative MP for Hampstead, George Balfour, and retained close links to the Tories.  Operation Angel happened to coincide with the controversy over the construction of the Pergau Dam in Malaysia, with more than £200 million of British taxpayers money authorised by Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd.  A judicial review later found that Hurd had acted unlawfully in approving the Pergau project, which was being constructed by Balfour Beatty and another company with strong Tory connections – Cementation International, employers of the Prime Minister’s son, Mark Thatcher.

So although Balfour Beatty’s own offices had been raided and police had discovered a payment of £140,000 from Balfour Beatty to Cllr Frank McGrath’s Isle of Man company bank account ‘Global Enterprises’, Attorney General Sir Nicholas Lyell decided at the end of 1993 to drop all aspects of the case that involved this major Tory donor.  Cllr McGrath arrogantly told the press: “I offered no comment to the police when they questioned me and I understand the company did the same.”

No doubt Balfour Beatty were relieved when they were able to resolve their own embarrassing involvement in the Preston Docklands scandal by paying back £1.3 million to Preston Council in 1998.

Owen Oyston might have thought he had escaped the long arm of the law with the collapse of Operation Angel, but justice caught up with him in May 1996 when he was convicted of rape.  Oyston’s friend Peter Martin, a former policeman, had regularly supplied girls from his model agency.  One of them – a 16 year old girl – was raped by Oyston, who was jailed for six years.  Later that year Peter Martin was jailed for 20 years after admitting a series of rapes and assaults on young girls recruited through his model agency.

Heroin trafficker Silvano Turchet, whose arrest eventually ended Frank McGrath's criminal career

Heroin trafficker Silvano Turchet, whose arrest eventually ended Frank McGrath's criminal career

Cllr Frank McGrath went on to become Chief Executive of the Oyston owned Blackpool Football Club, and it took a few more years for his luck to run out.  During 2003 McGrath met convicted criminal Silvano Turchet, who was on day release from a prison sentence.   McGrath described himself as an accountant and business adviser, though he had no accountancy qualifications.  Nevertheless for some reason Turchet decided that McGrath was the ideal man to help him with his next business enterprise.

This turned out to be the large scale importation of heroin, which Turchet brought in via a private plane, flying into a small wartime airfield at Sleap, Shropshire.  In May 2006 Turchet was caught red-handed when police raided the airfield and found him about to unload a cargo including heroin, cocaine and ecstasy.  He is now serving a 21-year prison sentence.

During 2004 and 2005 McGrath had laundered hundreds of thousands of pounds of drug money for Turchet.  Despite claiming that he was entirely ignorant of the source of these funds, McGrath was convicted of money laundering in February 2010 and given a four-and-a-half year prison sentence.

Ian Cruxton of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) commented:

“Serious organised criminals are motivated by money which buys them lifestyle and influence. Those who help them through money laundering enable the profits of crime to be invested in further criminal activity and this affects us all.
“SOCA doesn’t stop when it has caught and convicted the criminals. We will go after their wealth and we are determined to make sure they can’t use it or enjoy it.”

This SOCA policy led to the current attempts to recoup some of Frank McGrath’s ill-gotten gains.  He was ordered to repay £925,000 and this week failed to do so, resulting in an additional two year prison sentence.

Frank McGrath, former deputy leader of Preston City Council, had his jail sentence increased by a further two years this week.

Frank McGrath, former deputy leader of Preston City Council, had his jail sentence increased by a further two years this week.

Yet many Prestonians are left wondering whether justice was really done over Operation Angel twenty years ago, when Frank McGrath and others succeeded in escaping jail.  His old boss Cllr Harold Parker was never prosecuted, despite extensive investigations into his role as Owen Oyston’s representative during the Docklands development.

Cllr Parker retired from Preston City Council in 2009 due to ill health and died a few months later, after 45 years on the city council and its predecessor, Preston County Borough.  He was made an Honorary Alderman, after previously being awarded the Freedom of the City and given the title “Guild Burgess”, which dates back to a 12th century award to Preston by King Henry II.  Cllr Parker’s portrait hangs in the Town Hall, a public insult to anyone who cares about honesty in public life.

If Preston council tax payers are to have confidence in their political representatives and their police force, it is time for the criminal career of Frank McGrath and his cronies – whether Labour councillors or Tory businessmen – to be fully investigated by an independent inquiry.

2012 Election Preview

ballotbox

On 3rd May 2012 voters in more than 180 councils across England, Scotland and Wales will be going to the polls, with nationalist politics at its lowest ebb for more than twenty years.  Approximately 5,000 council seats are up for election, including the Greater London Assembly and mayoral elections in London, Liverpool and Salford.  The Conservative and Labour parties will be contesting virtually all of these seats, and the majority will have Liberal Democrat candidates.  One big talking point among politicians and journalists is the threat from a wide range of fourth parties: but sadly very little of this threat is coming from nationalists.

The two biggest “minor party” challenges are from the Green Party, with almost 1,000 candidates, and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), with just over 700.  Opinion polls published in mid-April put UKIP on 9% – for the first time ahead of the Liberal Democrats on 8%.  Yet the majority of voters will not have a UKIP candidate, and UKIP’s policies of Thatcher-style free markets and fanatical pro-Zionist, neoconservative foreign policies put them a long way from most British nationalists.  As a Daily Telegraph columnist recently put it, “UKIP is a party with no grassroots” – and has little capacity to build a genuine challenge to the political establishment.

The Greens are a more substantial political force than UKIP.  They have one MP in the House of Commons, are the largest party on Brighton council, and are close to controlling Norwich City Council.  Yet few people believe they will ever be more than a protest vote, and their catalogue of politically correct crankery makes them anathema to most nationalists.

galloway-bradford-victoryFor many nationalists, George Galloway’s Respect Party is even worse, as it was formed out of an alliance between Muslim immigrants and fringe Trotskyists.  Yet despite being written off more than once, Galloway (left) made a stunning comeback to Westminster at the Bradford West by-election, and from what had been a declining base Respect seems to have mobilised a substantial slate of candidates for the local elections – even they represent a far more serious short-term electoral threat to Labour than anything nationalists can manage in 2012.

For the first time since Derek Beackon won the Millwall by-election for the BNP in September 1993, no one from either the depleted ranks of nationalist activists, or from within the political establishment, is seriously expecting gains for nationalist parties at this election – least of all in London.

In the Greater London Assembly elections the BNP will be aiming to retain the seat captured by Richard Barnbrook four years ago.  Having quit the BNP in despair in 2010, Mr Barnbrook is not seeking re-election and the BNP’s lead candidate to replace him is the party’s London organiser Steve Squire, a London sex shop owner with a record of selling the so-called “date rape drug”.  Meanwhile the BNP’s mayoral candidate Carlos Cortiglia is a Uruguayan immigrant who once claimed to have volunteered to fight for Argentina in the Falklands War.

You really could not make it up!  The BNP lurches from one self-inflicted disaster to another.  This year there will be 137 council candidates from the BNP compared to 612 last time these particular seats were contested in 2008.  In fact this is the lowest total of BNP candidates at local elections since 2002.  There are no candidates at all in some of the party’s former strongholds.  Take West Yorkshire, where the BNP fielded a total of 83 candidates in 2008 but only two this year across the councils in Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield.

Among the few BNP branches still putting up a substantial slate are the eight candidates in Salford; seven in Stockport; six in Burnley (including defending councillor Sharon Wilkinson); eight in South Tyneside; eighteen in Birmingham; eleven in Coventry; and eight in Nuneaton.  However Nick Griffin’s authority even in his own party has declined to such an extent that numerous BNP candidate are open rebels who are demanding his resignation.

Elsewhere in the country various nationalist dissidents who have at various stages during the last decade seen through BNP leader Nick Griffin are standing either as independents or for a variety of other parties, while many more are biding their time and building towards a post-Griffin relaunch of nationalism later this year.

Robin TilbrookThe largest of the factions so far is the English Democrats, who are fielding 86 candidates in various council elections around the country, as well as a GLA slate and mayoral candidates in Salford and Liverpool.  The strongest ED slates are eleven in Leeds (including former BNP councillor Chris Beverley), seven in Doncaster (where the EDs won the mayoral election but have no councillors), and twelve in Barnsley, including former BNP organiser Ian Sutton.  Former BNP election guru Eddy Butler is standing in Loughton Fairmead ward, Epping Forest but of course many ED candidates are civic nationalists who have no past connection with the BNP or any other racial nationalist party.  These include party chairman Robin Tilbrook (right) in another Epping Forest ward: High Ongar, Willingale & The Rodings.

Rival English nationalist parties formed from splits in the EDs during the past few years have promised a lot on internet forums but delivered little.  Neither the English People’s Party nor the One England Party will be fielding any candidates.  For that matter neither will the National People’s Party, formed by a small group of former BNP officials including Nick Griffin’s former chief fundraiser Jim Dowson – nor the For England Party, created in 2011 by former councillor Michael Johnson after his resignation from the EDs.

The only one of the new parties which is putting up any sort of electoral challenge is the British Freedom Party, which will have five candidates for Liverpool City Council and one in Basildon.

Richard_Edmonds_ElthamWith the England First Party deciding to target just one council area – Preston – so as not to disrupt the recruitment of BNP activists for a post-Griffin realignment, the main nationalist challenge outside the BNP and the (semi-nationalist) English Democrats is coming from the National Front, Britain’s oldest nationalist party.  The NF will have 35 candidates nationwide, but its efforts this year are heavily concentrated in London, where candidates for the GLA include party chairman Ian Edward and former BNP national organiser Richard Edmonds (left), as well as former BNP parliamentary candidate Tess Culnane.  There are three NF candidates for separate councils in North East England; four in Hull; one in Maidstone; four in Thurrock (including former BNP councillor Derek Beackon); one each in Southend and Basildon; one in Amber Valley; four in Birmingham; two in Sandwell; one in Dudley; one in Knowsley; one in Rochdale; and one in Rossendale.  Surprisingly the NF also has eight candidates in Scotland (where the BNP has been completely wiped out) and two in Wales (the same as the BNP).  Former BNP activist Peter Tierney will be National Front candidate for Mayor of Liverpool, where he is up against the BNP’s North West regional organiser Mike Whitby as well as yet another ex-BNP candidate – Dr Paul Rimmer – standing for the English Democrats.  Last year Dr Rimmer had a brief sojourn as a UKIP candidate for Liverpool City Council, while Mr Whitby is only eligible to stand because he rents a defunct pigeon shed in Liverpool!  The BNP has reached the truly desperate stage when it has to employ these sort of tricks to field a mayoral candidate in a major city.  Mr Whitby actually lives in Wales, and is standing as a council candidate for Wrexham on the same day as the Liverpool mayoral contest – but the Liverpool BNP branch has collapsed so completely that this was the only way they could find a candidate.

Meanwhile the Bradford-based Democratic Nationalists (founded by BNP dissidents in 2008) are extending their influence beyond their home city, having helped organise a series of nationalist unity meetings in late 2011 and early 2012.  The DNs will have three candidates in Bradford (including former BNP city councillor Dr Jim Lewthwaite); one in Pendle (former BNP activist Gary Topping); and one in Doncaster (former BNP mayoral candidate Dave Owen).

Once again flying the flag for hardline national socialism will be Dave Jones of the British Peoples Party, standing in Todmorden ward, Calderdale.  At the start of the campaign West Yorkshire Police arrested Mr Jones for supposed “election fraud”, but this will not obstruct his candidature.  In fact the investigation is a shocking waste of police time, prompted by the far left’s harassment of the people who had signed Mr Jones’s nomination paper.  One of these people ludicrously claimed that she had signed the paper not knowing what it was, hence the police investigation.  There is no chance of even the politically motivated Crown Prosecution Service proceeding with charges against mr Jones on this basis.

State of the Movement 2011

Nick Griffin struggling to think up excuses as he contemplates election disaster in May 2011.

Nick Griffin struggling to think up excuses as he contemplates election disaster in May 2011.

An extensive analysis of the state of the nationalist movement following the May 2011 elections has been published online and will be covered in a forthcoming issue of Heritage and Destiny magazine.

This article by Heritage and Destiny assistant editor Peter Rushton uncovers the extent of the crisis that has now derailed the British National Party as a serious electoral force.  BNP councillors and candidates across the country have now paid the price for years of incompetence, corruption and authoritarian factionalism by their party chairman Nick Griffin.

Click here to read the full article.

Mr Rushton concludes:

A new nationalist coalition will need to adopt the following as absolute essentials, the sine qua non for nationalist success and the very opposite of the Griffin approach.

  • Nationalist parties must prioritise training and support for councillors.
  • Nationalist parties must demand the highest standards of behaviour from party officials and candidates for public office.
  • Nationalist parties must harness the talents of the best available individuals in our ranks.  The cult of the leader is far less important than the need to build a successful leadership team.

Richard Edmonds has pointed the way forward.  It is for other leading nationalists inside and outside the ranks of the BNP to decide how they can best contribute towards the rescue of the movement.  I strongly suspect that the BNP is holed below the waterline, and that either constitutional finagling or financial collapse will intervene to prevent Richard Edmonds and his team from completing their rescue operation.

If I am right, then senior figures in the BNP should right now be preparing clear statements that they are prepared to stand alongside Richard Edmonds and his team, either in a rescued and rebuilt BNP (which I regard as an almost impossible proposition) or in a new post-Griffin coalition.  The need for such a clear statement is urgent.  If nationalism continues to drift through the summer, there might be little left to rescue of the party that elected two Euro MPs in 2009.

State of the Movement 2011 is online here.

BNP activist cleared in court

LANCASHIRE EVENING POST, 21 June 2010: A BNP activist from Lancashire who wrote and distributed leaflets which blamed Muslims collectively for the heroin trade has been cleared of intending to incite religious hatred.

Tony BamberAnthony Bamber, 54, told a jury his intention was to create a debate about the “crime against humanity” that was the flow of the drug on to Britain’s streets.

He was responsible for heading a campaign which sent up to 30,000 of the leaflets by hand or post to targeted areas and individuals throughout the north of England over a 12-month period.

Bamber, of Greenbank Street, Preston pleaded not guilty to seven counts of distributing threatening written material intended to stir up religious hatred between March and November 2008. He was cleared by a jury at Preston Crown Court of all seven counts.

Representing himself, Bamber said there had been “no unpleasant incidents or social unrest” following the sending of the leaflets. Giving evidence last week, he explained they were targeted at educated professionals such as teachers, doctors, lawyers and clerics who were unlikely to take physical retribution against Muslims upon reading the literature. His aim was to create curiosity and interest which would then lead to a debate, he said.

Link to full article [external site]

BNP activist ‘delivered anti-Muslim leaflets’

THE YORKSHIRE POST, 14 June 2010:A British National Party activist delivered leaflets of “hate speech” intended to stir up religious hatred of Muslims, a court heard today.

Tony BamberAnthony Bamber, 54, printed and then distributed documents entitled The Heroin Trade which allegedly claimed followers of Islam were responsible for the sale of the drug on Britain’s streets.

It said the trade was a “crime against humanity” and demanded that Muslims “apologise and pay compensation” for the flow of heroin from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Preston Crown Court was told Bamber, of Preston, Lancashire, targeted various people across the North West in his leaflet drops between March and November 2008, including a school in Sedbergh, Cumbria, two barristers in Manchester, and addresses in Harrogate.

Link to full article [external site]

Heretical Two lose appeal but have sentences reduced

Simon Sheppard and Stephen WhittleIf anyone has a ‘friendlier’ link than the BBC for this news, please let us know so we can link to it!

BBC.CO.UK, 29 Jan 2010: The Heretical Two have lost their appeals against the UK’s first conviction for inciting racial hatred via a foreign website.

Simon Sheppard, 51, was sentenced to four years and 10 months, and Stephen Whittle, 42, to two years and four months at Leeds Crown Court in July.However, the Court of Appeal has reduced Sheppard’s sentence by one year and Whittle’s jail term by six months.

Sheppard, from Selby, North Yorks, and Whittle, of Preston, Lancs, controlled US websites featuring racist material.

Link to full article [external site]

New criminal conviction shows why multi-culturalism isn’t working

Crime gang receive lengthy jail terms.

LEP.CO.UK, 17 Dec 2009:The ringleader of a Lancashire gang, which formed part of an international conspiracy to import guns, drugs and ammunition into the UK has been jailed for 24 years.

Said to be Lancashire’s biggest ever criminal investigation, the crime gang was caught out by a three-year investigation tracking phone calls, travel by road, sea and air, and which vehicles members bought.

The Lancashire arm of the group, based in Preston and Lancaster, was today due to be sentenced by Judge Mark Brown.

Ivan Hue, 33, said to have been the ringleader of the Preston connection, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply class A and class C drugs. On Thursday he was sentenced to 24 years.

Read full article [external link]

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