Car parks chief is cleared of spying on rival

THE CHIEF executive of National Car Parks was cleared of mounting a campaign of industrial espionage against his chief rival, Europarks, yesterday.

Gordon Layton, 56, was found not guilty at an Old Bailey court of conspiracy to defraud Europarks by dishonestly acquiring information about its business affairs.

Simon Hewitt, 38, of Hammersmith, west London, a former manager of a security firm employed to acquire the information was also cleared of conspiracy to defraud.

The court was told that Mr Layton of Regent's Park, London, believed he was acting in a 'perfectly legal and ethical way' when he hired KAS, a security company, to investigate Europarks. He wanted to know how it was winning lucrative car parking contracts and whether there was a leak of information from his own company.

He 'wanted to act in the interests of his company, avoid breaking the law and he wanted to act within what was regarded as ethical', Alex Carlile QC, for Mr Layton, said.

KAS, based in Mayfair, central London, was started by Sir David Stirling founder of the SAS, the court was told.

During the two-month trial, David Paget, for the prosecution, said KAS operatives, may of them former SAS soldiers, followed Europarks directors, searched their dustbins and got jobs as car park attendants.

Jane Turpin, a former Army captain, used a fake CV to get a top secretarial job at Europarks where she photocopied documents and sent regular reports about the company and its personnel to Layton via Hewitt. Charges against Miss Turpin were dropped at the start of the trial after the prosecution was told it would be 'medically inadvisable'.

A preliminary investigation revealed Europarks was winning contracts fairly by undercutting NCP and not by obtaining confidential information about NCP.

Neither Mr Layton nor Mr Hewitt gave evidence, their lawyers arguing that neither believed they were breaking the law.

When Europarks discovered it was were being spied on it sued NCP. A civil action was settled when NCP bought Europarks for pounds 4.3m and paid money to four directors.

National Parking Corporation, which owns NCP, yesterday welcomed Mr Layton's acquittal and called for a review of the law relating to private security services. 'The company remained confident that he was innocent of the charge brought against him. His reputation for integrity is well known.' The trial had been an enormous strain for Mr Layton and his family, but he would be returning to work, it said.

'The fact the trial took place at all has shown the law relating to private security services to be in a very unsatisfactory state and in need of clarification,' it said. Company lawyers were examining 'untrue allegations' made about the case, it added.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Sports Simulator / Home Cinema Installation Technician

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Simulation Tec...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Consultants - OTE up to £35,000

£15000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Franchise Operations Manager - Midlands or North West

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The position will be home based...

Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue