|12-07-2008, 08:36 PM||#1|
Avalon Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Glasgow UK
Plymouth's Masonic Mafia 'infighting wars'
Plymouth's Masonic Mafia 'infighting wars
I have ripped the following from the Plymouth Herald website.
This case has been ongoing throughout the past week.
It seems funny how the rest of the National Press & Media - have failed to mention this Masonic spat of infighting - which is being "Played / Acted out" in the Bristol Court.
I wonder of - "under which Jurisdiction the Court is acting?
[Never mind that it is said to be a "Civil Action"]
Is the jurisdiction - Admiralty, Mercantile, Maritime, Commercial, Equity, Common law, Fleet law, or Masonic law ?
Nevertheless - all the characters seem to be a right bunch of gangsters.
Businessmen both at centre of serious investigations
Friday, December 05, 2008, 07:05
HIGH-profile businessmen John Preece and John Kingdom have both been at the centre of serious investigations it emerged as the pair came face to face during a dramatic fourth day in the High Court.
Bespoke tailor Mr Kingdom was involved in an investigation about a theft allegation at a Masonic Lodge and Taxifast tycoon Mr Preece was probed about payments to an unnamed Plymouth City Councillor, the hearing, in Bristol, heard.
And, as Mr Kingdom corss-examined Mr Preece for a whole day in the civil hearing, it emerged both men suspected each other of initiating the investigations.
Mr Kingdom, boss of Stitches Tailoring, also accused Mr Preece of being ‘envious’ of his lifestyle, and said the end of their 20-year friendship had felt like ‘a divorce’.
Mr Preece denied there had been such a friendship and also a raft of accusations put by Mr Kingdom.
The Taxifast chairman repeatedly claimed the cross-examination to be a ‘fishing expedition’ and called Mr Kingdom a ‘poisonous Walter Mitty’.
Key Cabs, which trades as Taxifast, is suing Mr Kingdom, and ex-Taxifast employees Phil Manning and Dean Ruffles for conspiracy to injure and harassment. It alleges they conspired to make phone calls to event management firm Expotel which damaged a major business deal it was working on with Key Cabs’ Taxibank operation.
Taxifast also claims the defendants told Plymouth private hire drivers it was in financial trouble and published damaging newsletters containing allegations about the firm’s finance and Mr Preece’s private life.
The three defendants, who are representing themselves at the Chancery Division hearing in Bristol, admit they wrote the newsletters but deny circulating them. They deny the other allegations but are also claiming Taxifast’s finances are not as healthy as the firm had said.
On the third day, the trial had heard how there is an on-going probe by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs into tax matters relating to Mr Preece.
But it also emerged the man ‘responsible’ for the investigation being called was Mr Kingdom.
As the trial took another dramatic twist, Mr Kingdom yesterday asked Mr Preece about whether he had spoken to Mr Ruffles about an investigation at the Mount Edgecumbe Masonic Hall where Mr Kingdom had been a bar manager, and an allegation of theft.
Mr Preece said: “I really don’t know.”
But then said: “You are out of your lodge, you are no longer a member of that lodge.”
Mr Kingdom asked: “Have you sent information to another lodge member?”
Mr Preece replied: “I am not a free mason, I have never wanted to be a free mason.”
Mr Kingdom asked if he had supplied information about court cases Mr Kingdom had been involved with, and Mr Preece said: “No.”
“Are you saying your company and you have never supplied any information?” asked Mr Kingdom.
“I can only talk about me and I have never supplied any information,” Mr Preece answered.
Mr Kingdom then produced a letter from the Masonic hall’s trustees which he said proved his ‘integrity’.
He asked Mr Preece if he had been behind a customs investigation into a rival Plymouth taxi firm, for ‘selling tobacco and red diesel’.
Mr Preece said he had not.
The taxi mogul was also questioned about an allegation that he had ‘bribed’ a Plymouth City Councillor and was quizzed by police.
“The allegation was that I had given the money to get contracts for myself,” said Mr Preece. “The police said there was no reason to be concerned, they wanted to clear up certain allegations.”
He explained his firm had carried out a transport survey, and admitted trying to get ‘a question about taxi buses in there’ but stressed: “That’s not bribing.”
He added: “They just wanted to know if I lent money to someone, as I do to a lot of people.”
Mr Kingdom asked if a company cheque had been paid to a woman, who then wrote a cheque to the unnamed city councillor.
“Did I make a contribution to the Liberal Democrats? Yes I did,” Mr Preece answered. “But I have also made contributions to the Conservative Party, as I still do, you know that.”
At this point Mr Kingdom admitted he had made a statement about this to police, saying they came to him because of his long friendship with Mr Preece.
He asked: “Was it a donation to that particular councillor for her party?”
Mr Preece said: “I can’t remember I think it was for the Liberal Democrat Party.”
During the heated questioning Mr Preece had said: “You tried to destroy people.”
He also accused Mr Kingdom of ‘plaguing’ him, and referred to a High Court hearing last year when Mr Kingdom was handed a suspended jail sentence for contempt after making allegations.
Mr Kingdom asked if he had ‘stopped’ when asked to, but Mr Preece said: “No, you did not stop harassing me, no.”
During yesterday’s hearing Mr Kingdom said: “We were friends for 20 years. I consider our friendship was broken like a divorced couple.”
Mr Preece replied: “There was never any friendship, you have been doing things behind my back.”
Mr Kingdom asked: “Have you ever been envious of me?”
Mr Preece replied: “I would never be envious of you John – I pity you.”
Mr Kingdom answered: “I have a fabulous wife, two children, I live in probably a much better house than you do, I have my own business premises – you have ended up, at 66, living in someone else’s house, with the business problems you have and no family whatsoever, why?”
Mr Preece said: “You have been pretty crass and stupid. I have said nothing about you.”
Later Mr Preece accused Mr Kingdom of being ‘a poisonous Walter Mitty’, while Mr Kingdom referred to language used in Taxifast newsletters, Mr Preece’s relations with the city council and his record on bringing litigation, and asked Mr Preece: “Do you consider yourself to be a bully?”
Mr Preece said: “No.”
The trial continues.
'FBI called in on property deals'
Friday, December 05, 2008, 19:31
ALLEGATIONS about taxi mogul John Preece's property dealings in America were made to the famous Federal Bureau of Investigation by bespoke Plymouth tailor John Kingdom, the High Court has heard.
As the civil action brought by Mr Preece and his Keycabs company went into a sensational fifth day in Bristol, Mr Kingdom admitted contacting the FBI.
But the allegation was described as 'nonsense' and an 'attempt to cause confusion' by Mr Preece's barrister David Fletcher.
The court also heard that Mr Kingdom had amassed 22 tape recordings of conversations with people described as 'disgruntled' with Mr Preece.
Yesterday the court was told about more allegations, this time about the world-famous FBI.
Mr Fletcher said that an email had been sent to the FBI in Las Vegas but said that the email address had been spelt incorrectly with an 'A' instead of an 'E' in Las Vegas.
Mr Fletcher said: "If it had been a real email it would have been spelt 'Vegas'."
But Mr Kingdom stressed: "I have spoken to the FBI. It is not a spoof. I may have faxed it to them."
Mr Fletcher asked: "You think you may have faxed it to the FBI in Las Vegas? Do they have FBI in Las Vegas?"
Mr Kingdom said: "No, the London office."
Mr Fletcher said: "It is a nonsense, another attempt to cause confusion."
He said the allegation referred to a mortgage Mr Preece had on a house in Nevada but asked how Mr Kingdom had information about such dealings and indeed whether what Mr Preece was alleged to have done was even illegal.
Keycabs, which trades as Taxifast, is suing Mr Kingdom and two ex-Taxifast employees, Phil Manning and Dean Ruffles, for conspiracy to injure and harasssment.
The firm claims they damaged a major business deal between Keycabs' Taxibank operation and event management firm Expotel.
It is alleged they did this via phone calls to Expotel and two newsletters containing allegations about Taxifast finances and the private life of Mr Preece.
The defendants admit writing the newsletters but deny circulating them, claiming they were designed as a private joke. They deny the other allegations.
There was also further discussion about allegations made about the Taxifast chairman, Mr Preece, to the police and the Inland Revenue, regarding his tax position.
The court heard more about allegations made by Mr Kingdom to the Inland Revenue about another prominent Plymouth businessman which resulted in, the court heard 'that man having to pay £400,000'.
Mr Fletcher told Mr Kingdom he was 'a serial reporter to the Inland Revenue', which Mr Kingdom denied.
Earlier the court had heard that allegations had been made to police and taxmen about Mr Preece and these were still being investigated.
Mr Kingdom was alleged in court to have been 'responsible' for those inquiries.
The court also heard that allegations of theft at a Masonic Lodge to which Mr Kingdom belongs had been made and Mr Kingdom has quizzed Mr Preece about whether he had passed information to that lodge.
Mr Fletcher also said that reporting Mr Preece to police and the Inland Revenue was an 'attempt to intimidate him'.
Mr Kingdom replied: "No, sir".
He said that he received information from 'disgruntled employees' and added 'there were a lot'.
Earlier Mr Fletcher had asked Mr Kingdom if he had written to Taxifast managing director Simon Hirst alleging 'Mr Preece was mentally unstable'.
Mr Kingdom replied: "Yes".
Mr Kingdom also said his memory was cloudy on some matters because 'I have been on Valium for 18 months'.
However, when he was grilled about the two newsletters he denies sending and various emails he admitting sending to Mr Preece he repeatedly stressed they had been intended as 'spoofs'.
He said one newsletter had been written by Mr Manning and the other by him, though he alleged that a copy which fell into the hands of Taxifast had been altered.
He said of the newsletter he authored: "It is a wind-up".
Mr Kingdom said his only involvement with a rival taxi firm called Unicabs was as a potential landlord.
The civil trial in The Chancellory Division and before his Hon Judge Mark Havelock-Allan was scheduled to end on Thursday but will now go into next week.
Taxi mogul in tax probe court told
Thursday, December 04, 2008, 07:00
TAXI mogul John Preece is at the centre of a tax investigation, a High Court hearing has been told.
The Taxifast chairman revealed, during cross-examination on the third day of a civil trial his firm is bringing, there is an ongoing probe by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.
But it also emerged the man 'responsible' for the investigation being called was bespoke tailor John Kingdom, one of three defendants and the person cross-examining Mr Preece.
Mr Kingdom had asked several questions about Mr Preece's whereabouts at different times, and property he owned in Plymouth and abroad, stating for tax purposes the businessman had to spend a certain amount of time out of the country.
Mr Kingdom mentioned 'a personal investigation opened by HMRC' and asked: "Is that still ongoing?"
Mr Preece replied: "Yes."
He said it was about 'alleged discrepancies' regarding time spent abroad.
His Honour Judge Mark Havelock-Allan asked Mr Kingdom: "You are responsible for the HMRC investigation?"
Mr Kingdom replied he was 'visited from an officer'.
Mr Preece then accused Mr Kingdom of initiating another tax probe into a well-known Plymouth businessman.
He said to the tailor: "You cannot resist interfering in my life and other people's lives. You have destroyed people's lives."
Key Cabs, which trades as Taxifast, is suing Mr Kingdom, and ex-Taxifast employees Phil Manning and Dean Ruffles for conspiracy to injure and harassment.
It alleges they conspired to make phone calls to event management firm Expotel which damaged a major business deal it was working on with Key Cabs' Taxibank operation.
Taxifast also claims the defendants told Plymouth private hire drivers it was in financial trouble and published a damaging newsletter containing other allegations.
The three defendants, who are representing themselves at the Chancery Division hearing in Bristol, don't deny they wrote the newsletter but deny circulating it. They deny the other allegations but are also claiming Taxifast's finances are not as healthy as the firm had said.
In a dramatic afternoon session, Mr Preece said allegations in one of the newsletters had been 'hurtful' and accused it of being produced as part of a 'conspiracy'.
Mr Kingdom asked if Mr Preece was a business 'hardball'.
"You have to be tough," Mr Preece said.
The court was then told about a threat to kill Mr Preece and what Mr Kingdom described as a 'catalogue of disasters'.
"You are a disaster – it's not a catalogue of disasters," Mr Preece replied.
Mr Kingdom then listed a number of attacks against Mr Preece's property including his stables being burned down, his dog being killed, paving slabs being thrown through a window, and paint thrown on a wall.
"Who needs enemies when I have you?" Mr Preece asked Mr Kingdom. "I've been burgled five times. You forgot to mention that."
Mr Kingdom asked if Mr Preece thought Hackney carriage drivers were responsible for the attacks and the private hire boss said: "Yes."
But he denied the accusation that his Plymouth home was a 'fortress'.
Mr Kingdom also asked about Mr Preece's relationship with Mr Ruffles, his former operations manager, and his wife Jane, with whom Mr Preece has told the court he 'co-habited' for a time.
Mr Preece described Mr Ruffles as having been 'a good driver' and Mrs Ruffles as 'special'.
Mr Kingdom asked Mr Preece about other women he had been involved with.
Mr Preece accused Mr Kingdom of being a 'gossip', denying loans he sought were to 'prop up Taxibank' but for normal business development.
He explained he had sold black cabs bought for £500,000 from David Trace, now a Taxifast director, because they were superfluous once Plymouth City Council had decided to grant him 20 taxibus licences for which he would need new vehicles.
Earlier the court heard from Taxifast security consultant Michael Foden, who said he saw one of the newsletters at a Hackney rank but had not collected it.
Driver Christopher Trevethan said he has spoken about the newsletters to Hackney drivers who were 'disgusted' at the personal content relating to Mr Preece, but were 'generally delighted' at the accusations about Taxifast's finances.
He said the firm's 'loyal customers' would have been concerned to think the company was in trouble.
Taxifast employee Gary Chase said the newsletters caused concerns among staff.
The trial continues.
Tears from ex-taxi boss
Wednesday, December 03, 2008, 07:00
ONE of the defendants being sued by leading Plymouth private hire firm Taxifast left the courtroom in tears during the second day of a High Court hearing.
Ex-Taxifast operations manager Dean Ruffles broke down during cross-examination of his successor at the company, David Trace.
Mr Trace had told the civil hearing how he had visited Mr Ruffles' home to change locks following the revelation of an affair between Mr Ruffles' wife Jane and Taxifast chairman John Preece.
Earlier Sharon Smith, marketing communications manager for event management firm Expotel, told the court that Mr Ruffles' voice sounded 'a little bit like' that of an unknown telephone caller who made allegations about Taxifast staff and finances and said the firm's chairman had 'run off' with his wife.
London-based Ms Smith was only able to say the caller had a 'regional accent', and was then asked by Judge Mark Havelock-Allen to listen to the voices of the three defendants.
She discounted those of bespoke tailor John Kingdom and ex-Taxifast employee Phil Manning but referring to Mr Ruffles said: "It sounds slightly like your voice but I can't be sure."
Key Cabs, which trades as Taxifast, is suing the three men for conspiracy to injure and harassment. It alleges they conspired to make calls to Expotel which damaged a major business deal the two firms were working on.
The firm also claims the defendants told Plymouth private hire drivers Taxifast was in financial trouble and published a damaging newsletter containing other allegations.
The three defendants, who are representing themselves at the Chancery Division hearing in Bristol, don't deny they wrote the newsletter but deny circulating it. They deny the other allegations but are also claiming Taxifast's finances are not as healthy as the firm has claimed.
On day two of the four-day trial, the court heard from ex-Taxifast driver Matj Lehocky who said he had tape-recorded a conversation with Mr Ruffles, where a transcript revealed he told Mr Lehocky the firm had financial problems, because, being Czech and not speaking good English at the time, he could then listen to it again and 'understand what was happening'.
He said he only passed it to Taxifast because he had 'concerns'.
Operations manager David Trace told the hearing he has sold 17 black cabs to Taxifast, but it was revealed he was still owed £435,000.
He also revealed, under cross-examination, that Taxifast had sold 16 of these, valued at about £30,000 each.
But he stressed he was 'not upset' at being owed the cash and was pleased to be 'given and opportunity' with an 'exciting company'.
He explained the sales by saying some of the black cab drivers had decided not to transfer over, or left, because they didn't want to enter Taxifast's 'regimented' way of working, and because Plymouth City Council had allocated the firm 20 black cab licences for taxi buses.
Mr Manning accused Taxifast of misleading Expotel with details of its finances, staffing levels and staff experience to secure a lucrative taxi brokerage deal with its Taxibank arm in early 2007.
But Taxifast managing director Simon Hirst denied this and said the phone calls made to Expotel caused a delay in finalising the deal and for Taxibank to miss out on contracts with major Government departments and companies such as Virgin Trains. The defendants put it to him there was no evidence against them, but he stressed: "I believe in my heart that you did it."
Expotel's chief executive officer Ian Burnley confirmed the calls caused a delay in the deal, and his firm would otherwise have 'introduced clients earlier'.
But he said he did not think he had met either Mr Ruffles or Mr Manning on a visit to Taxifast in Plymouth. It is claimed the pair must have known about the Expotel deal before it was finalised. The trial continues.
Taxi boss sues over 'conspiracy'
Tuesday, December 02, 2008, 06:45
ALLEGATIONS made about the private life of Plymouth taxi mogul John Preece, and the financial health of his companies, seriously damaged a major business deal, a court hearing has been told.
Bosses at a firm which was about to conclude a lucrative deal with Mr Preece's Taxibank operation were told he had an affair with an employee, staff accessed pornographic websites at work and how Mr Preece's firms were in financial dire straits, the civil hearing heard.
This caused the business deal to suffer a costly delay, it was claimed.
Mr Preece's Key Cabs firm is also claiming it was 'bombarded' with a stream of insulting emails, faxes and texts. One even offered the Taxifast chairman use of a chamber pot, claiming, in a metaphor for financial paucity, that he did not have one of his own to use.
Key Cabs, which trades as Taxifast and owns most of Taxibank, is now suing bespoke tailor John Kingdom and two former Taxifast employees, Phil Manning and Dean Ruffles, at the High Court in Bristol.
Mr Preece is claiming they were behind the conspiracy which resulted in delays to the deal with event management agency Expotel.
It is alleged the three worked together to spread allegations to Expotel bosses and Taxifast's own drivers, some of whom were shareholders in the firm, which said the company was in financial difficulty.
They did this, it is alleged, via telephone calls to Expotel, by discussions with private hire drivers, and via two newsletters attributed to a taxi firm, called Unicabs, set up by Messrs Kingdom, Manning and Ruffles.
The motive remains unclear, Taxifast's barrister David Fletcher told Judge Mark Havelock-Allan at the Chancery Division hearing.
However, he told the court Mr Ruffles, Taxifast's former operations manager, may have been motivated by an affair Mr Preece conducted with his wife Jane Ruffles.
Mr Fletcher told the court Taxifast was suing for conspiracy to injure, and harassment. But this hearing, scheduled for four days, would just deal with the issue of liability – whether the three defendants, who deny the allegations, conspired to injure and harassed Taxifast.
If they are found liable, another hearing would be called to decide damages.
The court was also told Mr Preece had dropped an additional claim against the defendants for damages to his business reputation.
Mr Fletcher told the court Expotel was on the verge of signing a money-spinning taxi brokerage deal with Mr Preece's Taxibank company in February 2007. This was expected to create 200 jobs in Plymouth.
Mr Fletcher claimed 'everybody knew about the Expotel contract in this company', including Mr Ruffles and Mr Manning, who were both employed by Taxifast at that time.
But as the deal was about to be finalised an unidentified man rang Expotel and said Taxibank was 'financially in debt', 'the chairman had run off with his wife' and 'employees looked at pornography online at the company', the court heard.
During the next two months there were two further calls, one from the same man, one from an anonymous woman.
Mr Fletcher said in March 2007, Mr Ruffles approached Taxifast driver Matj Lehocky and the barrister quoted from a transcript of their conversation, where Mr Ruffles talked about Unicabs and how 'John has got no money'.
Mr Fletcher said: "Unicabs was a front from start to finish, an excuse for a campaign of vilification that they undertook."
He said two newsletters, connected to Unicabs, a licensed firm which never traded, were distributed to taxi drivers and Expotel.
One was described as 'an embarrassing document attacking Mr Preece personally' and accusing him of 'gratuitous bullying' of his drivers.
The second was 'a generalised attack on Mr Preece' accusing him of 'philandering and gambling', and 'suggesting something improper to do with investment of drivers' money'.
Mr Fletcher spoke of emails sent to Taxifast, including one claiming Mr Kingdom had lent money to Mr Preece.
This, Mr Fletcher told the court, was 'a figment of Mr Kingdom's imagination', and said: "John Kingdom is living in a Walter Mitty world."
The defendants, representing themselves, later cross-examined Taxifast managing director Simon Hirst, claiming Taxifast's deal with Expotel, which eventually went ahead, had not been the financial success the firm predicted, but it was not as a result of anything the defendants had done.
They also claimed Mr Ruffles and Mr Manning had not been at Taxifast meetings where the Expotel deal was discussed in 2006, and therefore could not have known about it.
Mr Manning asked why minutes of daily staff meetings had not been produced, to reveal who was present.
Mr Hirst explained the meetings were short and the only notes taken were when actions needed to be carried out.
The trial, which is due to conclude on Thursday, continues today.
They pulled that story which was at
Also see this BBC article on Preece
Plymouth City Council allows masons to control taxi's
Council accused of licensing too many Private Hire cars
|12-07-2008, 08:49 PM||#2|
Avalon Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Weymouth, Dorset, UK
Re: Plymouth's Masonic Mafia 'infighting wars'
Excuse my ignorance here but is the masonic cult symbolised by the square and compasses?, if so i noticed the symbol the other day on portland in dorset.
|12-08-2008, 02:05 AM||#3|
Avalon Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2008
Re: Plymouth's Masonic Mafia 'infighting wars'