Friday, April 25, 2014
Multicultural fraudster in Britain stole millions
A con artist who concocted an elaborate £3.5million mortgage scam to fund his luxurious lifestyle has been jailed.
Alick Kapikanya, 45, stole the identities of elderly homeowners, secretly seized ownership of their houses and then repeatedly remortgaged them.
As homeowners fought to reclaim their properties, Kapikanya travelled in chauffeur-driven limousines, stayed in luxury hotels, and gambled his fortune. Once, he splurged £170,000 in a single night.
Kapikanya, who was today jailed for seven years, visited victims in Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Lincolnshire, pretending he wanted to buy their homes.
He employed a team of fraudsters to pose as the elderly and widowed homeowners, asking solicitors to sign over their properties. With the help of bankrupt property developer Marshall Joseph, the gang secured million-pound loans against the homes from independent financiers.
The plot successfully netted £3.5million in loans, and attempted to secure another £3.3million.
Kapikanya paid £1million of the money into accounts at Mayfair casinos.
The scam started in March 2007, and went undetected for months.
Finally, one of the loans companies raised concerns, sparking a seven-year investigation by Greater Manchester Police to prosecute Kapikanya and his co-conspirators.
Joseph has been jailed for four-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud and a bankruptcy offence.
Three of the gang who posed as homeowners were convicted. Irene Perciful, 50, of Cambridge, has been jailed for 12 months after being found guilty of conspiracy to defraud. Peter Tanner, 54, of Cambridge, was given a 15-month sentence suspended for two years, with 140 hours unpaid work. Myra Trigg, 57, of Moss Side, was handed a 32-week sentence suspended for two weeks, with 80 hours unpaid work. Another conspirator who banked £50,000 of the proceeds, Bruce Robertson, was jailed for 30 months.
Speaking after the conviction, widowed victim Gwyneth Cooke, 59, described her ordeal. Mrs Cooke, whose husband John died in 2000, was diagnosed with breast cancer just weeks before the trial.
She discovered the scam when a solicitor told her she owed money on the home she had lived in for 27 years in Worsley, Greater Manchester. She said: 'I was absolutely horrified.
'All they had were a few utility bills and documents and someone was able to get a loan on my house pretending to be me. 'I would never ever forgive them for as long as I live.
'I have the satisfaction of seeing some of them go to prison. But I think they should all have got 100 years’ hard labour with no remission.'
Sentencing, Judge Robert Atherton said: 'The homeowners in Walkden Road were either widows or widowers for whom their homes are very precious, particularly as they grow old and spend time with memories of life when they were not on their own.
'The sheer anxiety of thinking they may lose their homes must have been a serious concern.'
Ben Southam, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: 'When the defendants were arrested they had succeeded in defrauding various financial institutions of £3.5million, and had attempted to raise a further £3.3 Million.
'Each of them had their own specific role to play in this fraud, and all were fully aware of their actions. The mortgages and loans were obtained against houses they did not own, and without the knowledge of the real home owners.
'The true owners knew nothing about the loans being secured against their homes and were caused considerable distress and inconvenience to prove to the lenders that they knew nothing about the loans.
'We will also continue to make full use of the POCA legislation to ensure that criminals do not benefit financially from their illegal activity and we are currently pursuing the ill-gotten gains of Bruce Robertson, Alick Kapikanya and Irene Perciful.'
British pub is decorated with Union Jacks because the flag of St George 'might offend people'
Customers claim a JD Wetherspoon pub hung Union Jacks on England's national day in case non-English people found the St George's flag offensive.
Drinkers at The Saxon Shore in Herne Bay, Kent, blasted the move as 'political correctness gone mad' after staff decided not use England's red and white flag in favour of the United Kingdom's.
When angry customers asked why the pub was decorated in Union Jacks, they claim staff told them that the St George's flag 'might offend'.
Dental nurse Sam Gurney, 29, said she was 'gobsmacked' after she saw the St George's Day promotion while drinking with friends at the JD Wetherspoon pub.
She said: 'Being quite a patriotic person, I thought "Oh my God, why have they got the Union Jack instead of the St George?"
'I asked the manager and she said, "don’t go there". Apparently it was the Union Jack or nothing - I was completely gobsmacked.
'She said the policy was there because of fears the St George’s flag might offend people, which is just political correctness gone mad.
'It annoys me because when it was St Patrick’s Day, they made a big deal out of it flying Irish flags, hats and shamrocks but yet we can’t celebrate our national day.
'The Union Jack doesn’t make sense as Scotland are voting to break away. I’m pretty sure they won’t be flying it on St Andrew’s Day or St David’s Day.'
After posting her disgust on Facebook, Miss Gurney received support from other drinkers. Shirley Turner posted: 'Wetherspoons ought to be ashamed of themselves. 'St George is the patron saint of England, so for St George's Day fly the cross of St George which is the English flag. Simple!'
Katherine KJ Baxter added: 'Yet they’ll still fly the cross to show support to the English football team. How does that work then?'
Pub manager Hayley Bates said she understands why drinkers have questioned the decision to use the Union Jack, but said the pub had always used those flags.
She said: 'I can see her point, but we have always used the Union Jack to celebrate St George’s Day and it has never been an issue before. 'She started questioning it and she also said we should make a bigger deal out of St George’s Day than St Patrick’s, which I agree with. 'But I’ve been at Wetherspoons for eight years and nothing has changed in that time.'
A JD Wetherspoon spokeswoman denied the Union Jack flags were put up through fear of offending customers with the English national flag. She said: 'They have got St George's flags up now, they were put up today.
'It was something which was done every year, it was the decorations they always had. 'Nobody had ever pointed it out before, so now they have changed the decorations. We like to please our customers.'
Atheists should show 'liberal tolerance' to Britain's status as a Christian country
Atheists should accept that Britain is a “Christian country” – and show “liberal tolerance” towards it, a group of prominent philosophers has argued.
In a letter to The Telegraph, eight leading thinkers including Prof Roger Scruton, the philosopher and writer, insist that the moderate brand of Christianity “enshrined” in the British constitution actively protects those of other faiths and none.
The letter was published as Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, who is himself an atheist, said it was “flamingly obvious” that Britain is founded on Christian values.
Their intervention came amid a debate over the role of faith in modern Britain triggered by claims from David Cameron that the UK is still a Christian country, despite living in a more secular age.
In an article last week in the Church Times, the Prime Minister urged people in Britain to be unashamedly “evangelical” about Christianity.
But in response, dozens of writers, scientists and celebrities, wrote to The Telegraph accusing Mr Cameron of sowing “alienation” and “sectarian” division.
The group, led by Prof Jim Al-Khalili, the biologist and president of the British Humanist Association, and including Philip Pullman and Sir Terry Pratchett, the writers, accused Mr Cameron of causing harm by emphasising Christianity.
But in a response letter, eight thinkers including Prof John Haldane of St Andrew’s and Prof Nigel Biggar, of Oxford, argue that the special status of the Church of England, as established church, had itself actively fostered “liberal” values in Britain for centuries.
“Prof Al-Khalili and his cosignatories are quite correct to describe British society as plural and to say that it has benefited from the contributions of many non-Christians,” they write.
“Nevertheless, in important ways Britain remains a Christian country, as the Prime Minister has rightly claimed.”
The form of Christianity embodied by Anglicanism has, they argue, become the “public orthodoxy” and itself represents a “Christian humanism”.
“This Anglican establishment is liberal, imposing no civil penalties on non-Anglicans, which is why so many non-Anglican Christians and non-Christian believers support it,” they said.
Pointing to evidence suggesting large swathes of the population who do not attend church still identify with Christianity, they add: “It is understandable that convinced atheists will find this situation irritating.
“But a public orthodoxy of some kind is inevitable, and some citizens are bound to find themselves on the wrong side of it and required to exercise liberal tolerance toward it.”
Mr Clegg said: “I'm not a man of faith, but it think it's stating the flamingly obvious that we as a country are underpinned, informed, infused by Christian values.
“Christian heritage, Christian history, Christian culture, Christian values and I think that is something that is obvious about our identity as a nation.
“We are also a very tolerant nation, in fact one of the great Christian values is tolerance, respect for other people, other nations, other faiths, other views so I think our Christian heritage sits very comfortably alongside our plurality, our tolerance as a people .”
Nadhim Zahawi, a Tory MP of Muslim heritage, said: "People need to recognise and celebrate this country's Christian culture. "That doesn't mean it squashes other people of no faith at all.”
Alok Sharma, a Conservative MP, who is Hindu, said it was “nonsense” to say Britain is not a Christian country: “Christian values and organisations the backbone of civic society,” he said. "The good they do is for everyone across the community, they help all denominations.”
Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, said: “We'll leave it to other people to argue whether, in light of its pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon and Roman influences and post-Christian enlightenment influences, our law can be described as Christian.
“We'll also leave it to other people to point out that the shift away from Christianity and to non-religious identities is one of the biggest cultural shifts of today.
“Neither of these points is directly relevant to the purpose of Monday's letter.
“That letter made it clear that we respect the right of people to their religious beliefs but that in a very diverse society like today's we need to build an inclusive national identity not a narrow one. “To try and make this instead a war of words about religion as such is a distraction.”
The BBC’s groupthink is an enemy to free speech
When Jeremy Paxman joins the growing chorus of those who criticise the way the BBC has become a “smug”, dysfunctional, over-blown bureaucracy, run by overpaid unaccountable apparatchiks, one might think that they are describing the European Union, which is doubtless why the BBC loves it. We are familiar with the main reasons why the BBC, for all that it continues here and there to make much-appreciated contributions to our lives, has come to inspire such hostility (“loathsome” was Paxman’s word for it)
Its higher reaches have indeed become a parody of that mindless bureaucracy so brilliantly satirised in its own recent series W1A. It is outrageous that 360 of its senior executives are able to pay themselves more than £100,000 a year, 130 of them more than the Prime Minister. It is perhaps not surprising that the overwhelming impression that the BBC and its presenters give to the world is that they seem to be so babyishly pleased with themselves; and one of the symptoms of this “inflation”, as the psychologists call it, is that the BBC, with its endless puffs and trailers to tell us what a wonderful service it is giving us, too often seems, au fond, to be about nothing more than itself.
But, as ever more people seem to recognise, the most damaging price we pay for the BBC’s near-monopoly of the airwaves is the way it imposes on our national culture its own, only too recognisable view of the world: its own narrow, one-sided, left-of-centre form of groupthink. On pretty well every issue of the day, the BBC has its “party line”, dictating what can and cannot be said, who it invites on and who it excludes: from the EU and global warming to gay marriage; from wind farms to government “cuts”; from Israel to fracking. This is to the point where too many of its programmes are little more than propaganda, put over by self-regarding presenters who frequently cannot hide their impatience with anyone who doesn’t agree with the groupthink.
There is one salutary way to see just how one-sided the BBC has become, and that is to listen to American radio talk shows. Some, described as “liberal”, parrot the same politically correct line as the BBC. But others, called “conservative” are everything the BBC isn’t. Appearing on some of the more intelligent of such shows, with spirited, well-informed presenters, I have more than once observed: “I can’t tell you what a relief it is to be on this show, because back home in Britain none of what we have been saying to each other would ever be allowed on the BBC.”
With ever more people suggesting how the BBC could be reformed, or its monopoly broken up, there could be no more effective way to show British listeners what we are missing than to allow a rival network, free to put over the kind of views and values which, at the moment, the BBC manages to exclude from the national debate – except to pour scorn on them, even though they might reflect views held by much of their audience. This would certainly give the British a shock, because it is called “free speech”, something which no body is more active in suppressing than that unutterably “smug” state broadcasting organisation we all have to pay for.
Ukraine crisis is EU’s fault
One phrase in a piece by one of our most prominent commentators on the great Ukraine imbroglio exemplifies just how the West’s preferred narrative for this shambles is getting the story upside down. Can the West, it asks, make “a last-ditch attempt to deter Russia from its imperialist ambition”? As some of us have long been trying to point out, the trigger to this crisis was not President Putin’s attempt to further Russia’s imperial ambitions, but that of the EU to extend its own empire, right into the heart of a region which Russians see, ethnically and politically, as very much their national concern.
It was the ambition to absorb Ukraine into the EU that finally provoked 96 per cent of Crimean voters to choose to rejoin the country where they belonged through most of the last 230 years. Faced with that hubris exemplified in David Cameron’s boast last year that he wanted to see the EU stretching “from the Atlantic to the Urals”, it is unsurprising that so many of the Russian-speakers in Ukraine’s industrial heartland would prefer to be ruled by Moscow than by some alien government in Brussels.
For 60 years the “European project” has been driven by its ideological belief that the evil of “nationalism” must give way to an undemocratic, unaccountable “supra-nationalism”. But by pushing its “soft power” right up to Russia’s borders, the EU has finally gone a bridge too far. The lesson it shows no sign of learning is that there is still a real world outside its own little bubble of make-believe, where the sense of national identity and national interest cannot just be steamrollered into oblivion.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.