Crook with £2m loot gets £160,000 legal aid

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A CORRUPT civil servant with at least £2m worth of bribes secreted in a Swiss bank has received £160,000 in legal aid.

Gordon Foxley, the former director of ammunition procurement at the Ministry of Defence, caused 450 people in the Royal Ordnance fuse factory in Blackburn, Lancashire, to lose their jobs by giving orders to three foreign rival firms that were paying him backhanders.

He was jailed for four years in May last year for accepting £1.3m in bribes. MoD officials are certain he pocketed over £3.5m from foreign manufacturers in return for awarding orders. The true figure, they fear, could be far higher and may never be known.

This week, a television documentary will feature Foxley, 70, dispensing tea and biscuits to visitors and generally living it up in Ford Open Prison, in Sussex, where he is regarded as a hero by his fellow inmates because he made so much money and went undetected for years.

To be shown on Wednesday, the BBC2 programme of life inside the prison - reputedly the most relaxed in Britain - will show Foxley as an arrogant character, completely lacking in remorse.

In a parliamentary answer to John Marshall MP, the Government has admitted paying £160,228, including VAT, to lawyers acting on Foxley's behalf. Some of that money went on his recent appeal which was turned down.

John Taylor, the Minister for Criminal Justice, refused to say, in a second answer, whether Foxley gave any information about his overseas assets in making his legal aid application.

Although the MoD has issued writs against Foxley and members of his family to try to recover properties purchased with his bribes, which include nine freehold and leasehold properties in England, and several luxury cars, lawyers have been blocked in their attempt to retrieve £2m in a Swiss bank.

The Shadow Home Secretary, Jack Straw, who is also MP for Blackburn, said he was furious at the amount given to Foxley in legal aid. "It is breathtaking that this man who has defrauded the MoD, robbed the people of Blackburn of their jobs, and stolen money from the taxpayer should be able to have had his legal action paid for by the state."