Dame Shirley moves pounds 70m out of Britain

BARONESS PORTER has moved a personal fortune estimated at pounds 70m from Britain into offshore accounts to avoid paying a pounds 26.5m court surcharge for "wilful misconduct" in the "homes for votes" scandal at Westminster City Council.

Shirley Porter, the former council leader, has sold all her personal shares in the family business, Tesco, worth an estimated pounds 5.5m along with homes in Bayswater and Oxfordshire, and resigned from six British directorships.

The assets have been moved into offshore accounts in Jersey, Guernsey, Panama and the Virgin Islands, with investments in Switzerland, Israel and the United States.

Lady Porter, who now lives in Tel Aviv, Israel, is being pursued by Westminster council for the money to pay the surcharge imposed after her gerrymandering policy of selling council homes to influence voting patterns was declared unlawful.

The council has spent pounds 3.5m in legal fees to recover the money but its chief executive, Bill Roots, confirmed that a deal may be reached with Lady Porter to save taxpayers from further expenditure.

Her few remaining shares in Tesco, the source of her inherited fortune, are no longer held in her sole name and she has resigned virtually all of her directorships of UK companies in the last four years, since being found guilty of illegal action in seeking to obtain Tory votes in return for homes in Westminster council wards. She sold off two plots of forest land in Scotland in June for pounds 335,000, a month after it was discovered by the council that she owned 1,700 acres of forestry.

The trail of Lady Porter's assets will be exposed in a BBC2 First Sight documentary tomorrow called "Looking for Shirley". It shows a search at Companies House discovering that in March this year she sold her 20 per cent stake in one company, Chelverton Investments.

She is contesting the ruling by the district auditor and the High Court in the Court of Appeal next year. And she could still appeal to the House of Lords and the European Court, if that case goes against her.

Mr Roots told the programme that a deal was "something that may be appropriate in the fullness of time". He added: "The council has spent pounds 3.5m in auditors' and legal fees to get to the point we're at now and we're still in the courts."

If Lady Porter loses her appeal, there could be a long battle with the authorities in Israel and America - where the Porter family own other properties - before any assets could be seized.

Lady Porter issued a statement to the programme protesting her innocence of any financial wrongdoing. "The Westminster case is political from start to finish. This case is not about anything criminal or about any financial wrongdoing or gain. I've done nothing wrong and I intend to fight this case every step of the way."

The BBC programme producers said: "The legacy of her `wilful misconduct' lives on for local residents in Westminster where people who bought homes under her `designated sales' scheme, as the homes for votes scheme was officially called, find they are worthless."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
News
people
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones