Hatton trial allegations 'unfounded'

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THE PROSECUTION was accused yesterday of 'scraping the barrel' in its case against a defendant in the trial of Derek Hatton, former deputy leader of Liverpool City Council, and three others.

Richard Henriques QC, who is defending John Nelson, made the claim as speeches for the defence began at Mold Crown Court, North Wales. Mr Hatton, Mr Nelson and Hannah Folan, both former Labour councillors, and a businessman, John Monk, deny conspiring to defraud Liverpool City Council by arranging for Mr Monk to be leased land at the city's Brownlow Hill for less than its market value.

Mr Hatton, Mr Monk and Mr Nelson deny a similar charge in relation to land at Manesty's Lane in the city centre. No evidence has been called on behalf of Mr Hatton and the others.

Mr Henriques said the prosecution had made four serious allegations against Mr Nelson, chairman of the council's estates sub-committee: that he failed to put property out to tender, he was paid money, he 'fixed planners' and manipulated committee minutes.

But all the evidence had shown that these allegations were unfounded or, in the case of tendering, inappropriate. 'Failure to put land out to tender was the very cornerstone of the Crown case, but it melted away . . .'

He added: 'You may feel this is now a barrel-scraping exercise.'

The hearing continues today.