The taxman, the hooker and a love story

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The Independent Online
A senior Inland Revenue official became so besotted with an escort-agency woman that he lavished thousands of pounds of gifts on her, including designer clothes, watches and Mediterranean holidays, an Old Bailey court was told yesterday.

Michelle Corrigan, a former model, was giving evidence in the trial of Michael Allcock, an Inland Revenue inspector accused of taking bribes.

Miss Corrigan said she was introduced to Mr Allcock, a married man, by Hishan Alwan, an oil dealer with whom she used to have sex for money. "He asked me if I'd be interested in meeting one of his friends and I said yes. I didn't have a name but was told that he was English," she said. She met Mr Alwan at an apartment in Maida Vale, north-west London, where he gave her a white envelope containing pounds 200. He then introduced her to the tax inspector and left. After the first meeting Mr Allcock contacted Miss Corrigan and arranged to see her again.

She said that at the second meeting Mr Allcock was dropped off at the Maida Vale address in Mr Alwan's Mercedes. John Black, for the prosecution, has told the court that Mr Allcock had previously investigated Mr Alwan's tax affairs. Mr Allcock, 47, Mr Alwan and David Shamoun, a wealthy property developer, deny 17 charges of corruption.

Miss Corrigan, 30, said that she met Mr Allcock in Maida Vale about 12 more times and on each occasion Mr Allcock gave her money for sex. "Every time I met him he gave me a cheque or cash, sometimes pounds 130, sometimes pounds 200 but it was usually about pounds 200," she said.

The jury was shown a cheque for pounds 3,000 signed by Mr Allcock in 1990 to benefit Miss Corrigan. She said that the money was to help her to buy a car. "I bought a Peugeot 205GT and Mr Allcock also helped me to pay for the insurance."

At one point in their relationship it was alleged that Mr Allcock used his influence with Miss Corrigan to arrange a woman for Christopher Furze, a junior colleague, and that Miss Corrigan slept with Mr Allcock and Mr Furze slept with the other woman.

However, over a period of months a relationship developed from being that of one between a prostitute and a client to one that could better be described as an affair. This development occurred around the time that Mr Allcock took Miss Corrigan on the first of two holidays in September 1991. The couple first stayed at a luxury villa close to the Marbella beach club in southern Spain. Later they enjoyed another luxury break in Majorca.

The court was told Mr Allcock also paid pounds 1,500 for six months' rent for Miss Corrigan's flat in Portsmouth and cleared a pounds 1,000 credit-card debt. The jury was shown a receipt for pounds 675 for a watch bought by Mr Allcock for Miss Corrigan in December 1991.

Mr Black asked her to describe some of the other gifts she received from the tax inspector, whose salary at the time of his suspension was pounds 45,000. She said: "He bought me clothes, shoes, make-up, coats. They were generally designer outfits costing between pounds 300 and pounds 600. He also bought me a coat for pounds 400 from Harvey Nichols."

Mr Black has claimed that the money to finance these gifts came from "ghosts", wealthy foreign businessmen who had paid Mr Allcock to conclude favourable tax settlements.

Miss Corrigan said that throughout their relationship, which lasted approximately three years, she did not know what Mr Allcock did for a living and believed that he was a financial adviser. Just prior to the end of their affair in 1992 she said Mr Allcock told her he was putting money away for their future. She said: "I started looking at properties in the Portsmouth area; I thought we were in love."

Anthony Arlidge QC, for the defence, compared Mr Allcock's affair with Miss Corrigan to the plot line of the Hollywood film Pretty Woman, and Miss Corrigan agreed with Mr Arlidge when he said that while the couple began in a client and prostitute relationship they quickly fell in love.

Miss Corrigan was wearing a bright green jacket and matching green miniskirt. She said that she did not consider herself a prostitute. She said: "I consider a prostitute as someone hanging around on a street corner and advertising in phone boxes. I was introduced to these people and they would give me money. That is not the same as hanging around on the corner of the street looking for it. I was quite happy to sit there talking to him. I did not want to dive in, take my clothes off and jump on top of him."

The trial continues.

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