Monday, 4 March 2013


The Government’s  Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Service (AHVLA) today released a report into an incident at Ramsgate Port, on 12 September 2012 in which more than 40 sheep, destined for live export to Europe, were killed. The report recommends a number of major improvements to the checking and inspection process used to police the live export trade.

One the same day Kent County Council Trading Standards announced that it would be prosecuting some of the exporters allegedly involved in the events at Ramsgate for possible breaches of  the Welfare of Animals in Transport Order 2006. The hearing will take place at Canterbury Magistrates Court on 4 April 2013. Conviction could lead to 6 months in prison and/ or a £5000 fine.

Independent Thanet District Councillor, Ian Driver, and one of the anti-live animal export campaigners said “today is a good day for animal welfare. At long last the Government and Kent Trading Standards are beginning to flex their muscles and demonstrate to animal abusers that there is no place for them in the food trade or anywhere else.”
He added “I am delighted that Kent County Council will be prosecuting some of the live animal exporters for their alleged involvement in events which led to the death of more of more 40 sheep at Ramsgate Port on 12 September. I hope, that if found guilty, these people which be punished to the full extent of the law”.

“I am also very pleased by the Government’s decision to significantly tighten up the checking and inspection processes at Ramsgate Port and elsewhere. This is a big step forward”.
“However, I have seen the Government report and, reading between the lines, it’s clear to me that these changes, especially in relation to the number of vehicles checked and changes to paperwork, were all forced on the Government because the system in place pre-September 2012 was flawed, open to cheating and deception. But worst of all the report appears to suggest that the professionals tasked with carrying out the checks (AHVLA staff and Veterinary Surgeons) were simply not doing their jobs properly”.

“None of this awful brutality and suffering documented in the Government report would have come to light, and none of these bleated but welcome changes would have been made had it not been for 100s of Thanet people campaigning tirelessly and demonstrating in all weathers. This is a brilliant example of people power but we won’t be relaxing until this medieval trade is banned altogether”.


The Government report is here


I reproduce below a Government Report into the killing of more than 40 sheep at the Port of Ramsgate. This document provides some of most compelling reasons for banning this barbaric trade as soon as possible.

Timeline in relation to the Inspection of Vehicle Registration ******* at Ramsgate Port - 12 September 2012

11 Sept 2012 -
AHVLA were informed by the exporter’s agent, ************ of the vehicles that were due to arrive at the port for the sailing of the m/v Joline on the 12 September. AHVLA carried out a risk assessment and identified two vehicles that were assessed as high risk (based upon previous compliance history) and required inspection and a third lower risk vehicle that would be inspected if time permitted. This is in line with the risk assessment matrix for the vehicles that were presented on the day.

- The AHVLA inspection team consisting of ********** (Technical Team Leader), and ************************* (Animal Health Officers) arrived at Ramsgate port.

- Two vehicles transporting live animals arrived at the port;

 ********** transporting three tiers of unshorn sheep;

 ********** (lorry and trailer) transporting 3 tiers of unshorn sheep;

AHVLA, in the company of the RSPCA, walked around these vehicles to ensure that there were no visible indications of non-compliances.

- Four vehicles transporting live animals arrived at the port;

 ********** transporting 3 tiers of unshorn sheep - inspected by AHVLA;

 ********** (lorry and trailer) transporting 3 tiers of sheep;

 ********** transporting 3 tiers of sheep;

 ********** transporting 3 tiers of shorn sheep - inspected by AHVLA.

- AHVLA carried out an inspection of vehicle *********** in the company of two RSPCA inspectors. The vehicle was of French origin with French drivers. The vehicle is designed with fully adjustable decks. It is designed so that each deck must be loaded and then lifted into position before being locked in place. It was loaded with 548 sheep over three decks (tiers). All documents relating to the animals were in order. These included a vehicle approval certificate issued by (or on behalf of) the Competent Authority in France. This document confirms that the vehicle has been inspected and assessed as being compliant with Council Regulation EC 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations.

During the physical inspection of the vehicle, AHVLA inspectors identified a sheep, on the middle tier, with a limb trapped between the deck floor and shell of the vehicle. The driver was informed and managed to free the limb with some ease. There were no visual signs of injury and the sheep was able to bear weight on the limb without any signs of discomfort. Subsequently, a second animal, on the top tier was discovered with a similarly trapped limb. Due to the un-natural position that this limb was trapped in, the AHVLA inspector considered that the injury was so severe as to warrant the animal as being unfit to be transported. The driver was again alerted. This time it was necessary to use a crowbar to lever the deck away from the
Appendix 1 2

shell of the trailer, to provide sufficient space to be able to release the trapped limb. AHVLA inspectors were also concerned that the vehicle had been poorly loaded with some pens exhibiting signs of being over-stocked. The RSPCA inspectors identified a third animal which was not bearing weight on a limb and in their opinion was not fit to transport.

Simultaneously to this AHVLA inspectors observed that a number of other sheep on the middle tier, which had already been inspected, had subsequently managed to place limbs between the deck floor and the shell of the vehicle. In their opinion this represented a risk to the animals and brought into question the suitability of the vehicle.

The AHVLA inspectors concluded that the vehicle could not be allowed to proceed until the sheep with the severe leg injury had been euthanised. Moreover, due to the escalation in the numbers of animals with limbs between the deck floor and the shell of the trailer, the fact that similar occurrences were identified on the previous two occasions that this vehicle had been inspected at the port (i.e. single animals had been identified with trapped limbs) and concerns regarding the stocking densities in some of the pens, the inspectors considered that the vehicle could not proceed with its planned journey and that following the removal of the severely injured animal , it must divert to a local premises to rectify the problems that had been identified.

In relation to the limbs which were slipping between the deck floor and the shell of the vehicle, AHVLA inspectors considered that it was the configuration of the decks (i.e. the position in which the deck floors were situated) that was the cause of this problem.

– The seventh and final vehicle arrived at the port;

 ********** transporting 3 tiers of sheep.

- Vehicle *********** was prohibited from loading onto the m/v Joline. A statutory Notice under Article 24 of the Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006 was drafted by an AHVLA inspector, requiring the animal with the severe leg injury, to be euthanised. The notice was not served until 10:10 (see below.)

- Due to the AHVLA inspectors’ belief that the vehicle was not suitable to transport animals in its current configuration and the fact that the driver had indicated that the configuration could not be altered whilst the unit was loaded, AHVLA took the decision to initiate their contingency plans, in case needed, and contacted premises detailed in their contingency plan. At this point, it was the AHVLA inspectors’ intention that the animal that they considered unfit must be euthanised and then the vehicle would be diverted to a local facility to be unloaded.

- The second vehicle that had been identified for inspection, *********, was checked by AHVLA inspectors, found to be fully compliant and was allowed to proceed onto the vessel.

- AHVLA confirmed that contingency premises were available, if required. The premises identified is 24 miles / approximately 45 minutes travel time from Ramsgate.

- The last vehicle was loaded on the vessel. Appendix 1 3

- AHVLA received a call from ***********, RSPCA *************, who informed the inspectors that he was not happy with AHVLA’s proposals to manage the problems identified, specifically AHVLA’s intention to transport the sheep to an emergency facility in a vehicle that was not considered suitable and that was over-stocked. He further instructed that any unfit animals must be unloaded at the port. The AHVLA inspector made it clear to him that this was not appropriate as there were no facilities at the port to unload animals.

- The m/v Joline sailed.

- ************* informed AHVLA inspectors that due to the location of the severely injured sheep, the limited access and the concentration of other animals across the deck, it was not possible to remove the injured sheep from the vehicle without causing it further suffering, in order for it to be euthanised. He offered to carry out the procedure in situ. RSPCA inspectors objected to the suggestion that it was appropriate to carry out this procedure in front of other animals.

AHVLA staff decided that they should try to find another vehicle to transfer some of the sheep into and which would enable the injured animal to be removed from the vehicle.

Whilst the responsibility for contingency arrangements lies with the transporter, it was becoming apparent to AHVLA inspectors that the driver and attendant had made no progress towards implementing their own contingency plans. It was the view of AHVLA inspectors that this was predominantly because neither driver understood nor spoke any English. AHVLA therefore decided to implement its own contingency arrangements.

- The Article 24 Notice was served, by AHVLA, on the driver requiring that the sheep with the severely injured leg should be removed from the vehicle and humanely destroyed. (See 08:45). This delay stemmed from the need to complete inspections of the second vehicle and ensure that the m/v Joline sailed without delaying the journeys of the six other vehicles.

- AHVLA contacted Kent Trading Standards (KTS) to advise them that AHVLA inspectors considered that the transporter had breached the transport legislation by failing to transport the sheep without causing unnecessary suffering. AHVLA informed KTS that it was their intention to transfer the sheep to a second vehicle and transport them to their contingency facility, after the severely injured animal had been euthanised.

- AHVLA received a further call from ********** RSPCA , this time in the presence of ************** (RSCPA Legal Adviser). He informed the AHVLA inspector that they (the RSPCA) were not satisfied with AHVLA’s contingency plans and were not prepared to allow the use of a vehicle that was unsuitable and overstocked, to transport animals to the emergency facility.

11:15 -
Notwithstanding the concerns over the suitability of the vehicle, AHVLA were concerned by the need to take action to alleviate the distress of the severely injured sheep and approached UKBA to see whether or not the inspection shed could be used to facilitate off-loading the vehicle to enable access to the injured animal and to Appendix 1 4

enable it to be euthanised. UKBA were supportive, but could not offer immediate assistance as the shed was being used by them and would not be available before 1pm. AHVLA wanted to expedite a more timely resolution and therefore approached the port manager.

11:45 -
A private veterinary surgeon (PVS), requested and arranged by the RSPCA, arrived.

- AHVLA spoke with the duty port manager to see if there was anywhere within the port that might be suitable to unload the vehicle. At this point the intention remained to unload the vehicle solely to allow access to the injured sheep.

The duty port manager identified an area usually used to wash lorries. AHVLA inspected the site and were satisfied that it was stock proof. The floor was solid. The site was free off any objects that might cause harm or injury to the animals. There was sufficient room to enable the animals to be provided with water whilst unloaded.

AHVLA instructed the driver to move the vehicle to this site and unload the vehicle. During the unloading, the RSPCA spotted an animal which was unable to bear weight on one limb. The PVS inspected the animal and assessed that it wasn’t fit to transport and that it too must be euthanised.

As the vehicle continued to be unloaded it became evident that there were a number of other animals exhibiting signs of lameness. AHVLA and RSPCA marked these animals (forty one in total, excluding the two previously identified as not being fit to transport) with a livestock marker, with the intention of carrying out a closer inspection of them once the unloading was complete and the animals were more settled.

11:55 -
AHVLA contacted KTS to advise them of the number of unfit animals that had been identified and requested that they attend the port.

- The injured sheep, and the second animal assessed as unfit to transport by the PVS were euthanised by **********************.

- AHVLA were still of the opinion that the configuration of the decks was responsible for the problems identified and that it may be possible to load the animals in a configuration that did not represent a risk to the animals. They permitted the vehicle to be reloaded with the intention of altering the configuration to ensure that this remedied the previously identified problems. The swan-neck section at the front of the vehicle and the top deck of the vehicle were loaded without issue. However, when the middle deck was loaded it was clear that sheep were again trapping their limbs between the deck and the shell of the vehicle. This deck was unloaded. AHVLA decided to allow the vehicle to transport animals in the top and lower decks of the vehicle to their contingency facility. Having unloaded, the vehicle would return to collect the remaining animals and transfer them to the contingency facility as well.

- KTS Officers arrived at the port with a French interpreter. AHVLA staff advised them that it was their intention to transport the healthy sheep to the Appendix 1 5

contingency premises in two loads as the middle deck of the vehicle was unsuitable. KTS decided that they would interview the first driver whilst the second driver transferred the animals to the contingency premises, and then interview the second driver whilst the first driver transferred the remaining animals to the contingency premises.

- During the process of attempting to reload the vehicle AHVLA inspectors spotted that a number of sheep had fallen through a drain hole into a well in the unloading area and were drowning.

One of the AHVLA inspectors and the PVS successfully extricated four of the sheep from the drain hole. However, there were two animals which had drowned before they could be extricated from the well and these were recovered by the RSPCA using dog-catching poles.

The drain had been covered by a man-hole cover, which was hidden by shingle covering the area. The man-hole cover had not been secured to the drain and it appears that the sheep managed to dislodge it. It was subsequently covered and made safe.

- A BBC film crew gained access to the port to film proceedings.

14:00 -
**************, who had been told of the numbers of animals unfit to transport, informed AHVLA that he could arrange for a vehicle to collect them, and take them to a local abattoir. He contacted a local transporter to arrange for casualty transport. Simultaneously to this the first AHVLA veterinary officer arrived at the port.

- The second AHVLA veterinary officer arrived at the port.

- AHVLA’s veterinary officers, in discussion with the RSPCA’s vet, agreed that the vehicle was not suitable to move the sheep to the contingency premises. AHVLA continued to seek alternative transport but were unable to locate a suitable vehicle.

The journey organiser, ***********, was informed of this decision, by AHVLA. He was not happy to accept this decision and informed AHVLA that he would accept no further responsibility for the animals. He was reminded that he still had responsibilities and that he should be making suitable arrangements to deal with the emerging situation.

Later, ****************** approached AHVLA and suggested that the sheep could be transferred to a local abattoir using the original vehicle. This option was considered by AHVLA. However, inspection of the vehicle by AHVLA inspectors had demonstrated a fist sized gap between the deck floor and the shell of the vehicle. In the opinion of the AHVLA veterinary inspectors any change of direction or sharp movement (e.g. rapid deceleration) whilst a limb was trapped between the deck floor and the shell of the vehicle would put a strain on those limbs with an associated risk of severe injury to the animals. This option was, therefore, not considered appropriate.

Appendix 1 6

- The drivers of the vehicle would not co-operate with KTS and consequently were arrested by Kent Police on behalf of Kent Trading Standards and taken to Margate Police station.

15:45 -
The sheep which had previously been identified as exhibiting signs of lameness were examined jointly by an AHVLA vet and the PVS. They agreed that one animal was fit to travel, that three animals were fit enough to be transported to an abattoir and that the remaining 37 sheep were not fit to transport and would need to be euthanised on site. Some of these animals showed evidence of recent injury, likely to have occurred in transit, others were of a more long standing nature, caused by foot rot lesions, the lameness being exaggerated as they were penned on hard standing.

As a consequence of this decision, ***************** contingency arrangement for the unfit animals to be taken away by a casualty vehicle was no longer appropriate.

17:00 -
The driver of the casualty vehicle departed the port. (It is not known what time he arrived as he did not make his arrival known to AHVLA.)

17:30 -
The journey organiser contacted AHVLA to inform us that a replacement vehicle had been identified but that it would not be at the port for approximately nine hours. Having exhausted the contingency contacts available to AHVLA, under the circumstances AHVLA accepted this delay. However, inspectors continued to expedite a quicker solution, without success. AHVLA were informed by *********************** that identifying a replacement vehicle had been hampered by the fact that media coverage had resulted in a number of hauliers declining to offer assistance.

- Euthanasia of the unfit animals commenced. This was completed in a specially created pen (shielded from public view) by RSPCA officers under the direction of their vet and assisted by AHVLA officers. The RSPCA used a bolt gun to stun the animals and a pithing rod was used to ensure death. The RSPCA took photographs of the operation.

18:25 -
A second contingent of AHVLA staff arrived to replace the initial inspection team. They brought with them a quantity of hay to provide to the sheep.

- Euthanasia of unfit animals completed.

19:05 -
AHVLA arranged for a local pet crematorium to collect and dispose of the carcases.

- ***************, from the pet crematorium, arrived at the port to collect the carcases.

20:30 -
Loading of the carcases onto **************** vehicle was completed and he left the port.

AHVLA staff stayed on site to monitor the animals’ welfare and until the replacement vehicle arrived.

- on 13th September, the replacement vehicle arrived. The animals were loaded on to the vehicle, supervised by AHVLA staff. Appendix 1 7

- The vehicle left the port, and travelled to a farm in Kettering, Northamptonshire. An RSPCA vehicle left to follow it to its final destination


At last the powers that be are are taking action against the cruel and barbaric exporters of  live  sheep and calves from Ramsgate Port. Kent County Council Trading Standards have commenced criminal proceedings against a number of defendants. Their first Court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday 2 April  Canterbury Magistrates’ Court. They are charged with offences under the Welfare of Animals in Transport Order 2006, of loading sheep which were unfit to travel and of transporting them in an inappropriate vehicle contrary to Articles 5 and 9 of the Order. These offences are  punishable by 6 months’ imprisonment and/or a £5,000 fine. The alleged actions of these unnamed people led to the slaughter of more than 40 sheep  at Ramsgate Port on 12 September 2012.  In another development Minister of State for DEFRA David Heath announced the publication of an investigation report into the horrific events at Ramsgate on 12th September. I will publish a copy of it when i get one. A summary of the recommends
  • Inspection of every consignment passing through Ramsgate;
  • Tougher enforcement of welfare procedures;
  • AHVLA implementing its own contingency plans in the event of an emergency if the transporter is unwilling or unable to implement their own plans within two hours;
  •  Improved procedures to ensure an AHVLA vet is always within an hour of the port to assist AHVLA inspectors in the event of an emergency or welfare concern;
  • Working with the operator of the transport vessel to develop new contingency measures in the event of an emergency;
  • Restricting changes that the transporter can make to the journey log of the delivery prior to the export. This will help maintain clear records of the animals during the journey.

Had it not been for the selfless campaigning of 100s of Thanet people against this medieval trade and the help of the RSCPA,  MP Laura Sandys and the Thanet Gazette, then this trade would have  continued unchecked and  unreported. At least now the level of checking and inspection is to be significantly ramped up and anyone who breaches animal welfare laws at the Port are much more likely to be prosecuted.

However, until the barbaric trade is finally stopped in Ramsgate and the rest of the country the campaign continues!

Saturday, 2 March 2013


About 6 months ago somone passed me a copy of a what appears to be a secret report complied by Conservative party members about  the Pleasurama  Development. I have no way of knowing if this report is genuine or not. But I do know of other people in Thanet who have seen this report and belive that it is genuine.

It is a very long document and apart from red acting some names. I publish it in full.

Brief Account of the Meeting with Clr Sandy Ezekial and ???? of Thanet District Council,


Sadly, 1 am writing this account on Thursday, 11 September 2003, which means that my

recollections are not so fresh as they were immediately after the meeting. However, the

main facts remain clear in my head.

The Meeting

We decided to open the meeting with a statement of the facts as they could be represented

by hostile outsiders, rather than seek to have these facts admitted by questioning. This

second strategy might have had more impact, but might easily have been diverted by

irrelevant detail from ??? and a continual evasion of the questions. So Sean opened

with the following statement:


Councillor Ezekial, you are involved in a large property transaction with a

company that claims an association with a Swiss bank - we know this to

be untrue; that claims the support of Whitbread - we know this to be false;

that has no office in this country that we have been able to find; that is

registered in a well-known tax haven that was until recently on the OECD

black list for money laundering; the directors of which are unknown to the

public. It is reasonable to assume that this lack of actual association with

the Swiss bank and with Whitbread has had something to do with the

considerable delays in submitting a planning application, as this would

require the spending of £15,000 that SFP does not presently have. Looked

at from the outside, all this suggests a scandal. Wild claims are circulating

in Thanet about the people behind SFP. The most moderate conclusion is

that it is a front for persons connected with the Council.


The mention of the term 'scandal' brought forth strenuous denials from both

Mr.??? and Councillor Ezekial that there was anything untoward going on here.

Councillor Ezekial emphasised that the matter had been referred both to the District

Auditor and the Council's own Compliance Officer and both had pronounced themselves

satisfied with the probity of the proposed transaction.


??? tried to pour scorn on all of our points. He claimed that he had overheard all

manner of wild rumours which he claimed were common fare among the locals but which

were all spurious.


David then raised the matter of the planning application which had still not materialised.

Mr.??? replied by saying that such application was 'imminent' although he went

on to admit that he was expecting it in 'four to six weeks'. He also went to great lengths

to point out the complexity and expense involved in making the application which, of

necessity, had to include plans for highways, drainage and such.


When pressed for information about the directors of SFP he claimed that all relevant

information would be made public as soon as the development deal was signed, which

would be in about a month. He also stressed that the development contract provided that

SFP did not get paid until the development was complete so this was more or less a

guarantee that the land would be properly developed.


He went on to declare that all matters were in hand and he was quite confident that the

deal would go ahead as planned.


However, the letter from SBP disclaiming all association with SFP threw him off

balance. We followed by pointing out that the SFP business stationery carried the SBP

Geneva address. He tried to claim a continuing interest from Whitbread, but was again

thrown by a report of the conversation between Jamie Cowen, the Acquisitions Manager

of Whitbread, with Sean on the 26th August, disassociating Whitbread from all further

involvement in the Pleasurarna redevelopment.


??? argued that Whitbread was not directly a financial backer, but had only

considered running the hotel. David countered by arguing that the claimed fact of

Whitbread involvement would be sufficient to get meetings with financial backers who

might otherwise not be interested. Again, ??? was visibly embarrassed.


We explained that the media were already aware of this matter and that it was only a

matter of time before ??? and Ezekial began to receive telephone enquiries from

the media. He asked how much experience they had of dealing with such questions.


We pushed hard with questions about compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.

No satisfactory answers were given. We then asked about the delays with the planning

application. ??? answered that the delays would not be endlessly tolerated, and that

the matter would be reconsidered if no application had been received by November 2003.


We then asked Cllr Ezekial: "Did you check with SFP that any profits from the

redevelopment would be retained in the United Kingdom for payment of United

Kingdom taxes?"

The answer: "No".

The rejoinder: "Why not?"

The answer: "It never occurred to us to do so."


??? tried to argue that such a requirement was unreasonable, since it was like

demanding to know the bona fides of anyone buying a property at auction. Our reply was

that an auction, in which goods went to whoever had the money, was entirely separate

from a tender, in which a continuing relationship was contracted on the basis of more

than price. We asked at this point about the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Ezekial said he knew who was behind SFP, but was unable to say until closer to the

signing of a contract of sale. However, he did confirm that Shaun Keegan was a Director

of SFP.


We raised the A.J. Brown proposal, noting that plans were available and that the
company had a definite presence in the United Kingdom, and that it was backed by parties known to have unlimited resources for any redevelopment. He asked why Thanet
had decided to continue with a very suspicious transaction when this one remained on
offer. No satisfactory offer was given.

<Removed> that the questions being asked were logically distinct from the reasons why

they were being asked. <removed>. He replied:


We are not accountable to any electors, or under the law, or to the

You are. You might try responding to our questions when they me put to

you by the media. by asking who is paying their salaries. It will not do.


??? was uncomfortable for most of the meeting and took the earliest opportunity to

wihdtraw. We had expressed disapproval of his presence at the beginning of meeting,

but accepted his presence when told that he would be useful to answer questions of detail.

However, as said he -soon gave up on trying to dominate the meeting. When we turned to

political matters, he withdrew.


Ezekial revealed to us that the deal would already have gone through had Labour won the

last elections, and that he had referred the matter to various modes of inspection, and that he had also demanded a £250,000 bond from ISPP.




AS AT 12th NOVEMBER 2003



This report is based on the investigations carried out by the Committee for the

Improvement of Sandwich Bay.


Appended documents are all copies of documents that are in the possession of the



1. This report concerns the events surrounding the derelict site of former 'Pleasurama'

which is situated in a prime seafront location on the Ramsgate Marina and is owned

by Thanet District Council.

2. In 2002, the Council (then Labour-run) made the decision to sell the land for redevelopment

and invited appropriate tenders. Some 70 tender offers were received by

the Council from which a shortlist of the two most suitable offers was finalised.

3. The two 'finalists' were, on the one hand, a consortium of local businessmen led by

a local Chartered Architects A. J. Browne & Co and, on the other, was a company

called SFP Ventures Partners Limited (SFP). A.J. Browne & Co is a locally based

firm with a track record of successful development in the area and proper financial

backing. So keen was A.J. Browne & Co to publicise their plans (which included a

swimming pool and amphitheatre for use by local residents) that they issued a press

release about their proposals which appeared in the Thanet Times edition of 19th

November 2002 (Appendix 1). Nothing was known about the identity, backers or

proposals from SFP.

4. At a Cabinet Meeting which took place on 22nd November 2002, the Council

decided to award the development contract to SFP. Among those Councillors present

at that meeting was the future leader of the Council, Mr. Sandy E/ekial. a local

businessman and proprietor of a carpet shop in the Thanet area.

5. Brief announcement of the Council's decision appeared in the local press but

without mentioning any details or specifics. To this day no details of the SFP offer

appear to have been made public. However, A. J. Browne & Co had managed to

ascertain from local sources that the SFP offer included the construction of a hotel and

that Whitbread PLC had agreed to take over the running of that hotel once complete.

6. Despite the go-ahead having been given to a development company, local residents

saw no sign of any activity on the site. Neither did any application for planning

permission manifest itself. This caused some concern as the site is one of central and

major significance and its development was eagerly anticipated by local residents who

expected it to provide a boost both to the amenity and economy of the area.


7. In February 2003, Mr. Anthony Browne of AJ. Browne wrote to Thanet DC to

request details of the SFP Proposals. He received a reply from the Head of Planning

and Regeneration, Mr. P. ???, advising him that all matters were subject to

contract and, therefore, privileged. (Appendix 2). Mr.Browne found it very odd that

an important matter of the development of public property should be protected by

alleged privilege.

8. In May 2003, the Local Council elections saw the Conservatives take control of

Thanet District Council and Mr. Ezekial was appointed as leader of the Conservative


9. Again in May 2003, a group of Conservative supporting local residents formed the

Committee for the Improvement of Sandwich Bay. The Committee was formed in

direct response to the Conservative victory in the local elections. The purpose of the

Committee was to work with the new administration with a view to improving the

amenity of the area. Given its importance and prominence the Committee decided to

give the Pleasurama site priority attention.

10. On 4th June 2003, Dr. Gabb (President of the Committee) wrote to Mr. ???

requesting information about the site and progress in respect thereof. (Appendix 3).

No response was received. On 19th June 2003, Dr. Gabb wrote again to Mr.

??? (Appendix 4) and also to Mr. Ezekial (Appendix 5).

11. Mr. ??? did reply on 25th June 2003 (Appendix 6) but only briefly and

enclosing a copy of the Council Minutes for a meeting scheduled to take place on

26th June 2003 (Appendix 7).

12. Committee members made a search of the UK Companies Register but could find

no mention of any company called 'SFP Ventures Partners Ltd'.

13. The Minutes for the Council Meeting reveal a number of germane points:

(i) A legal dispute involving a Mr. J Godden and a company called Blueridge

Properties was not resolved until 3rd June 2003 (Clause 3.2)

(ii) It was expected that a development agreement would be agreed and implement by

the end of June 2003 (Clause 3.3)

(iii) Although it is mentioned that Whitbread PLC withdrew from the arrangement, it

is still mentioned that they were 'reconsidering' their position (Clause 3.5)

(iv) This project is being partly financed by the public purse at both national and EU

level (Clauses 3.8 to 3.11)

14. In the hope of obtaining clarification of matters, members of the Committee

attended a meeting with Mr. ??? and Mr. Ezekial at the Town Hall on 7th July

2003. At that meeting, we were assured by both of these gentlemen that all matters

were proceedings normally and that an application for planning permission from SFP

was expected in 'four to six weeks'. Mr. ??? further advised that SFP were an

arm of a Swiss merchant bank of the same name and so finance for the deal was no


problem. He also confirmed that SFP were, in fact, registered in the British Virgin

Islands and that was the reason why no trace of that company appears in any UK

database. When pressed for further information about SFP, its directors, offices and

beneficial owners, Mr. ??? claimed that he was not able to divulge such



15. As a result of the information obtained from the meeting, the Committee made

further investigation into SFP from which the following was learned:

The British Virgin Islands does not maintain any sort of publicly accessible

Companies register.

It is a well-known tax haven.

Until 2002, it was on an OECD 'blacklist' as one of many territories not cooperating

with international attempts to curb money laundering.

SFP Ventures Partners Ltd has no office or other presence in this country.

There is a Swiss Bank called 'SFP' (Societe Financiere Privee) though it

changed its name to 'SBP' (Societe Bancaire Privee) in January 2003.

SBP made a substantial loss in the 2001-2002 trading year.

It does not appear to have any presence outside of Switzerland.

It is likely that the bank is forbidden by Swiss law from engaging in land

developments outside of Switzerland.

15. The Committee also obtained a photocopy of the business card of a Mr. Shaun

Keegan which bears the name and address of SFP Bank (now 'SBP'). The Committee

learned that this gentleman was distributing this card to local residents in 2002.

16. Because suspicions had been aroused, Dr. ???? wrote again to Mr. ??? on

10th July 2003 (Appendix 8) requesting confirmation as to the bona fides of SFP. Mr.

??? non-committal and evasive reply is dated 29th July 2003 (Appendix 9).

17. The Committee resolved at this time to seek a further meeting but this time with

Mr. Ezekial himself, in the hope that we could get to the bottom of these matters as

Mr. ??? was, for whatever reason, unwilling to co-operate.

18. On 4th August 2003, the Committee wrote to the Chairman of SBP (formerly

'SFP') in Switzerland requesting answers to the questions we had raised with Thanet

District Council but which had not been answered satisfactorily or at all (Appendix


19. The Committee received a brief reply from the bank dated 12th August denying

that SFP Ventures Partners Ltd were either wholly or partly owned by the bank

(Appendix 11).

20. On 12th August 2003, the Committee wrote to Mr. Jamie Cowan of Whitbread

PLC to ask them to confirm whether or not that company was still concerned with the

Pleasurama development. (Appendix 12)


21. The Committee wrote to Mr. ??? again on 15th August 2003 (Appendix 13)

setting out, in details, the information that was still outstanding and to which the

Committee, as local residents, were entitled to request. The letter also mentions the

lack of progress in regard to the site which was now becoming a matter of

considerable concern to local residents and the subject of unsavoury rumours as to the

probity of the alleged redevelopment deal.

22. On 26th August 2003, Dr. ??? spoke on the telephone to Mr. Cowan regarding

the letter of 12th August. Mr. Cowan confirmed that Whitbread PLC had initially

shown interest in the deal but had subsequently pulled out because 'the numbers did

not stack up'. He further confirmed that Whitbread PLC had no further interest in the

project whatsoever.

23. Mr. ??? responded again with a letter of 26th August 2003 (Appendix 14)

which simply re-states previous non-committal positions and vague assurances. His

'replies' to the questions raised are obtuse (he claims not to know what is meant by

'tangible or authorised presence in the UK'), evasive (he seems unwilling to reveal

any information about the identity of the officers of SFP) or simply dismissive. The

Committee members were increasingly frustrated by this behaviour.

24. A further meeting with Mr. Ezekial was finally secured for 8th September 2003.

Mr. ??? also attended.

It was put to Mr. Ezekial that it appeared that the Council was proposing to

enter into a substantial arrangement with a developer which had no known

presence in the UK, which was based in an offshore tax haven and which

falsely claimed to be a subsidiary of a Swiss bank. The whole matter was

shrouded in secrecy and had all the appearance of a scandal. Various rumours

were circulating among the local residents, the most temperate of which was

that SFP was, in fact, a front for actual members of the Council.

All of this was strenuously denied by both Mr. Ezekial and Mr. ??? who

maintained that there was nothing untoward going on here.

Mr. Ezekial advised that the previous Labour administration had not followed

proper procedures and that he had rectified this by referring the matter to the

Council's own compliance officer for approval and the District Auditor. Both

officers had approved the transaction. He also said that he had demanded a

development bond for some £250,000.00.

Mr. ??? attempted to pour scorn on any allegations and claimed once

again the SFP were a perfectly respectable company backed by a Swiss Bank.

He was shown the letter from SBP dated denying any connection with SFP

which seemed to take him by surprise.

Mr. ??? also reiterated that Whitbread PLC were involved with the deal

and seemed equally taken aback when he was advised of the contents of the

telephone conversation between Mr. Cowan and Dr. Gabb referred to in point

22 above.

It was put to Mr. ??? that it was possible that the Whitbread PLC name

and reputation was being falsely used in order to enhance the bona fides of the

developers. Mr. ??? denied this.


Mr. ??? claimed that 'all would be revealed' in a press release due in

about a month and that he expected a planning application in 'about four to six

weeks' (again!)

Mr. Ezekial was reminded of the sad provenance of scandals that have

blighted the Conservative Party and which seem to come, most crucially, just

at the moment that the Party is experiencing a revival in its electoral fortunes.

Both Mr. Ezekial and Mr. ??? were reminded of the law governing the

behaviour of local authorities and as contained in the Local Government

(Model of Conduct) Order 2001. Both men said that the law had been

complied with.

The question of whether the profits from this venture were going to be subject

to UK taxes. In response both men said they had not given any consideration

to that matter.

When pressed to reveal the identity of the people behind SFP, Mr. ???

again refused to answer although Mr. Ezekial, when pressed, did admit that

Mr. Shaun Keegan was a director.

When pressed, Mr. Ezekial also confirmed that he would not be prepared to let

this matter 'drag on'. If no progress had been made by October/ November he

would demand that good reasons be given as to why.

25. On 10th September 2003, the Committee wrote again to the Chairman of SBP to

enquire as to whether they had any connection with Mr. Shaun Keegan (Appendix


26. Also on 10th September 2003, the Committee wrote to Mr. ??? expressing

their dissatisfaction and disappointment at his failure to provide information in this

matter and setting out the reasons why his previous responses had been so inadequate

(Appendix 16). No reply has been received.

27. A further letter was sent by the Committee to Mr. Cowan of Whitbread PLC

warning him of the possibility that the good name and standing of his company was

being used to artificially bolster the bona fides of the Pleasurama development deal

(Appendix 17).

28. SBP replied to the Committee on 2nd October 2003 confirming that they had 'no

participation in SFP Ventures Partners Ltd' (Appendix 18).

29. On 1st October 2003 the 'Kent on Sunday' newspaper ran an article on the arrest

of Conservative Thanet Councillor Colin Kiddell on charges of fraud arising from a

development deal involving the 'Dreamland' site in Margate (Appendix 19).

30. On 16th October 2003 the report ofthe District Auditor into the handling of the

previous sale ofthe Pleasurama site was published. The report was very damning of

the previous Labour-run administration and highlighted many instances of

mismanagement and incompetence. Note: the present deal with SFP was agreed by

the previous Labour administration.

31. On 24th October 2003 the Committee wrote again to Mr. Ezekial reminding him

that the first anniversary ofthe agreement was now approaching and that there had

still been no progress on the site. The Committee expressed their surprise that a


Conservative Councillor of such repute should be seen to do nothing in the face of

mounting failure (Appendix 20).


32. On the same date another letter was sent to Mr. ??? expressing the

Committee's disgust at the palpable failure to note either any progress on the site or

any meaningful response from him to previous enquiries (Appendix 21). There has

been no response to this letter.

33. Also on 24th October 2003, the Isle of Thanet Gazette ran an article on the

District Auditor's highly critical report on the conduct of the previous administration

and the recommendations made as to how matters should be dealt with in future. In

the article Mr. Ezekial is quoted as saying that there are 'ongoing negotiations with

SFP Ventures' and "We hope that by Christtmas detailed plans for the site would have

been submitted" (Appendix 22).

34. In the same issue is another article in which current Conservative Councillors

denounce the appalling behaviour of the previous Labour administration (Appendix


35. Mr. Ezekial replied to the Committee by a letter dated 30th October 2003 in which

he advised that Mr. ??? had now left the Council and that 'a full set of plans

had now been deposited with tour Planning Department' and that the 'Council has

acted in a proper manner' (Appendix 24).

Note: there is no evidence whatsoever to support the view that the Council has acted

in a 'proper manner'. In fact, quite the opposite would appear to be the case.

36. On 7th November 2003, the Isle of Thanet Gazette ran another article on the

proposed development of the Pleasurama site in which Mr. Ezekial is quoted as


"The developers have been working closely with the Council since they were





"They have held regular meetings to update us on their progress with their scheme

and their proposals which are now available for local people to comment upon"

(Appendix 25)


No plans have been made public as far as the Committee is aware.




1. The decision to award this tender to SFP was made by the previous Labour

administration which has since been found guilty of gross incompetence and


The decision was apparently made on the basis of proposals and plans which have

never been made public.

3. It has been consistently claimed that the project has the support of a major public

company even though that has not been the case since the beginning of 2003.

4. SFP is a company which is registered in the British Virgin Islands where the law

allows companies to keep their records and details occluded from the public gaze.

5. The British Virgin Islands is well known as a tax haven for offshore investors

where profits can be put beyond the reach of the UK tax authorities.

6. SFP appears to have no office or presence in the UK.

7. The identity of the officers and beneficial owners of SFP is shrouded behind a veil

of secrecy.

8. The identity of the company's financial backers (if any) is unknown.

9. It has been claimed that SFP is the subsidiary of a Swiss bank which has publicly

denied any connection with them.

10. Legitimate and reasonable enquiries of the Council have been met with a

consistent wall of obfuscation, evasion and misinformation.

11. Despite the passage of 12 months since the tender was given to SFP the

Pleasurama site still lies untouched and derelict and there is not even any sign of the

oft-promised planning application


The evidence presented in this report has given rise to grave misgivings among the

members of the Committee. It seems remarkable that the circumstances surrounding

this purported redevelopment would not cause a reasonably prudent Councillor or

Council Officer at last some concern. If it transpires that there is a lack of probity in

this matter then it would not be very hard for some local or national media

organisation to uncover it and make it public.


As redoubtable Conservative supporters, the members of the Committee are

particularly anxious about the image of the Party at this delicate time when it appears

that a long-awaited turnaround in its electoral fortunes may be afoot. It hardly needs

stating that the Party can ill-afford yet another damaging scandal at either local or

national level.


We are therefore of the opinion that this matter should be looked into as a matter of

considerable urgency.