Master conman slips out of jail

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The Independent Online
FOR A master con man who had spent most of his life exploiting a wide variety of disguises, the feeble security of Ford Open Prison was never going to prove much of a challenge.

Sure enough, only two months into his six-year sentence, the notorious swindler Anthony Passmore walked straight out of the Sussex jail. He has not been seen for over a fortnight.

Unfortunately his escape came as news to the detectives who contacted Ford last week, hoping to interview Passmore, 53, about the missing spoils of a pounds 6m fraud.

They also considered it a disaster. For the Islington-born con man is linked to Britain's most notorious crime gang, the north London-based Adams family.

Detectives had pursued him for a year before trapping him as he prepared to "sting" London investors for a further pounds 12m by posing as an Irish bank director.

But Passmore proved too wily for officers at Ford, walking out of the prison, near Littlehampton, between 8am and 2pm on 24 February.

Detectives from the City of London police force contacted Ford to arrange an interview with Passmore about the pounds 6m only to be told that he was on the loose.

A force spokesman said: "They were not happy, to say the very least. We are hopping mad."

Last night embarrassed Prison Service officials were trying to explain why Passmore had been allowed such lax security conditions so early in his sentence.

A Prison Service spokesman said: "Open prisons are run on a basis of trust. Mr Passmore has obviously abused that trust and if he is recaptured he will be sent to a closed prison.

"He was sent to Ford after a rigorous risk-assessment. He failed to appear at a roll-check on the day in question and local police were informed, but he is still at large."