A former barrister made use of a Mckenzie friend’s lack of legal knowledge to cause the authorities as much ‘trouble and expense as possible’ in an attempt to avoid paying a £1.16m confiscation order, a judge has ruled.
Michael Richard Stannard, who in 2001 was jailed for four and a half years for cheating Inland Revenue out of £3.1m, lost a fight against paying the balance of a confiscation order of £1.68m made in October 2003. He was disbarred in 2003.
Stannard, who is now based in Verbier (pictured), Switzerland, and is in contempt of court for his failure to comply with the order, now owes £1.16m out of his original confiscation order.
Ruling in the High Court (Administrative Court) in the Matter of Michael Richard Stannard and the Matter of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, Mrs Justice Andrews said that Stannard had fought ‘tooth and nail’ to avoid paying back gains made at the expense of the then Inland Revenue.
Stannard did not appear in court ‘presumably because there was a warrant for his arrest for contempt outstanding’ and was unable under the terms of the confiscation order to pay for legal representation. Instead, he was represented by Mark Hardy, a McKenzie friend who argued that Stannard should be treated as having already paid the order.
His claim hinged on the ownership of a £395,000 property which was originally used to calculate the amount he should pay and on whether £900,000 recovered from him should have been used to remunerate an enforcement receiver rather than paid directly to court.
Andrews ruled that Stannard’s application was ‘a clear abuse of process’ and said he was trying to put the Crown Prosecution Service and the enforcement receiver ‘to as much further trouble and expense as possible, presumably in the hope they will give up and go away’.
She suggested that it ‘suited’ Stannard’s interests to use a McKenzie friend as his mouthpiece because Hardy’s lack of legal knowledge meant he did not appreciate the difference between an argument that is likely to fail and an argument that cannot be properly advanced.
She stressed she was not criticising Hardy 'who seemed to me to be motivated solely by a desire to put to an end any further dispute'.
Andrews ruled that there was no question over whether Stannard could afford to pay, as he has admitted that he is living in a property worth more than the remaining confiscation order.
She also concluded that the enforcement receiver was right to take his remuneration from the money recovered before giving it to the court, as Stannard was liable for this cost, but has said he could apply to have the receiver’s further costs assessed.
Andrews also made an order for the warrant of committal to be enforced so Stannard may be ‘forced to face the consequences if circumstances enable him to be arrested’.
In a statement to the Gazette, Stannard described as 'completely false' any suggestion that his residence had changed because of current circumstances.
'I ceased to reside in the UK in 1974, when I was 24. I am now 65. I have spent the period since then living in Jersey, Spain, France and Verbier, where I have had the use of the Verbier flat - to which, pace the Crown Court, I only actually got title in 2014 - for 30 years. Home is not the UK.'