Judge orders acquittal of Hatton on fraud charge

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The Independent Online
DEREK HATTON and two co-defendants were cleared yesterday on a corruption charge after the judge at Mold Crown Court ruled the prosecution had produced 'insufficient evidence'.

Mr Justice Waterhouse directed the jury to find Mr Hatton, former deputy leader of Liverpool City Council, Roy Stewart, a builder, and Hannah Folan, a former city councillor, not guilty of conspiring between 1986 and 1990 to defraud Liverpool council through a complex deal to buy 20 acres of council-owned land at Stonedale Crescent, Croxteth.

Mr Stewart, 55, of Woolton, Liverpool, was freed after four days of legal submissions in the absence of jurors.

The prosecution had claimed that councillors had rejected the recommendation of council officials to advertise availability of the site in favour of an offer from Mr Stewart's company. The judge yesterday told jurors that Mr Stewart had offered to pay the market price for the land, or settle the deal by arbitration.

The case had been prosecuted on the basis that the three defendants intended the council to run a risk of financial loss or detriment. But the jury had been given 'insufficient evidence of a common intention to defraud Liverpool City Council'.

Mr Hatton, 45, and Ms Folan, 47, both former Labour members of the council, remain on trial charged jointly with John Monk, 45, with conspiring to defraud the council in 1987-88 through the licensing of land at Brownlow Hill for a temporary car park at a price below market value.

Mr Hatton and Mr Monk face a similar charge with a former Labour councillor, John Nelson, 49, following the licensing of land for a car park in Manesty's Lane. All four plead not guilty.

The trial continues today.