Fraudster with victims across three continents

Even the most rudimentary check on the background of Peter Foster would have told Cherie Blair that this was not a man with whom a Prime Minister's wife, Queen's Counsel and part-time judge should have any dealings.

In fact, if one were to pick a man with whom the Prime Minister's wife would be least advised to become financially involved, convicted confidence trickster Foster would be up there in the top ten, alongside Jeffrey Archer and Robert Maxwell.

Equally, a wide range of police, consumer protection and immigration officials in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, not to mention hundreds of dissatisfied purchasers of various bogus slimming aids, would have warned Mrs Blair on the inadvisability of having any involvement with Mr Foster.

And then there are Samantha Fox and Esther Rantzen, both of whom might have cautioned Mrs Blair. Presenter Ms Rantzen has lost count of the number of times she exposed his activities on her programme That's Life. She said: "He is simply a very successful conman who uses his intelligence and charm to persuade people to trust him. Each time we exposed him, or the trading standards people caught up with him, he would just take a flying leap to another continent. I don't think he has ever had a legitimate business in his life.'' Ms Rantzen said she was amazed that, despite his record and reputation, he had continued to be let into Britain and other countries.

Foster's career as a fraudster began in his late teens, when he started promoting boxing matches on the Queensland Gold Coast, in his native Australia. He was fined by a judge for trying to claim insurance on a fight which had been cancelled in dubious circumstances. In 1984, after affecting a wealthy lifestyle, he was made bankrupt amid allegations of unpaid bills and a failed scheme to help people stop smoking

In the mid-1980s Foster and his mother moved to Britain, where he began a relationship with Samantha Fox – then the nation's favourite Page Three pin-up – and used her to front a campaign to sell his Bai Lin slimming tea. After the tea was exposed as worthless on That's Life, the company collapsed in 1988 with £700,000 debts and Ms Fox found she had been used as an innocent pawn. His company was later fined £5,000 for breaching the Trades Descriptions Act, but he left the country before sentencing.

The following year, he turned up in Los Angeles, where he was selling a cholesterol-reducing tea called Cho Lo. He was jailed for four months for "conspiracy to commit grand theft through advertising". After release, he skipped America and so avoided the community service part of his sentence.

Back in Australia again, he was confronted by its companies watchdog, the Australian Securities Commission, over allegations involving interfering with witnesses to an inquiry into one of his businesses.

While that inquiry was still going on, he returned to Britain again in 1994 to face sentencing over the Bai Lin affair. He was fined £21,000. The following year, in Liverpool, he was jailed for two years for another diet scam. He was found guilty of conspiring to supply a product with a false description.

After nine months, he was let out on day release and fled back to Australia where the Securities Commission caught up with him. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison for managing a corporation while insolvent and threatening witnesses. He was then extradited back to Britain, where he faced further fraud charges. He pleaded guilty, but was freed by the court because the judge sentenced him to time spent on remand.

He returned again to Australia and became involved in the marketing of Trimit diet pills, for which he is currently wanted for questioning by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission after complaints from investors.

It is not clear when he began his relationship with Carole Caplin, the former soft-porn magazine cover girl who has been Mrs Blair's advisor on fitness and dress for several years.

Although he has also been renting a flat in the West Hampstead area, he is currently staying with Ms Caplin at her flat in Islington, in north London, from where he issued his statement yesterday defiantly saying he had never stolen money from anyone.

Foster's convictions

1983: fined £75,000 in Australia for fraud.

1989: sentenced to four months in jail in Los Angeles for peddling fake slimming tea Cho Lo

1994: fined £21,000 at Warwick Crown Court for another bogus slimming tea, Bai Lin

1995: jailed for two years at Liverpool Crown Court after talking a former slimmer of the year into falsely claiming that she lost weight with ''slimming granules''. Fled the UK after nine months while on day release.

1996: given 18-month prison sentence in Queensland for threatening witnessing and running a company while insolvent.

2000: after being extradited to UK, sentenced to 33 months for fraudulent "thigh-reduction scheme" but freed immediately because of time served on remand.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Glasgow on Wednesday; he says education is his top priority
peopleNick Clegg remains optimistic despite dismal Lib Dem poll ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Déjà vu: David Tennant returns to familiar territory with Anna Gunn (‘Breaking Bad’)
tvReview: Something is missing in Gracepoint, and it's not just the familiar names
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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: Trainee Accounts Office Administrator

£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The ideal candidates will have ...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£22000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing boutique prac...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?