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By | John Oates 29th November 2007 17:16

Preacher jailed for £51m carousel fraud

Thou shalt not make false VAT returns

A lay preacher and law lecturer from Beeston has been jailed for six and a half years for defrauding the British taxpayer to the tune of £51m.

49-year-old Malcolm Edwards-Sayer, from Bramcote, admitted eight counts of conspiracy to cheat the Inland Revenue.

The preacher was involved in a carousel fraud which for 18 months claimed to import and then export mobile phones, computer chips and sat nav gear. Each time the non-existent goods moved, VAT was claimed back.

The court was told Edwards-Sayer set up a chain of companies and sold goods on in a carousel fraud. The companies would then disappear before HMRC could get its money back.

Apart from being a lay preacher Edwards-Sayer was earning a crust as a law lecturer at South East Derbyshire College at the time of his arrest.

He also bought himself a Lordship - Lord Houghton - and tried to open offshore accounts in that name.

The former dean of Beeston, the Reverend Jonathan Smithurst, told the BBC: "His content was always very good, very thoughtful, coherent. And he was articulate and really a very good communicator."

A spokesman for HMRC noted that the fraud was worth almost exactly twice as much as the notorious Brinks-Matt robbery.

Edwards-Sayer received a further three and half years in prison for pretending to be a solicitor.

However the judge described him as "facilitator rather than an organiser" and was highly critical of the prosecution which led him to release eight other suspects.

Judge Teare told the BBC: "Comprehensive failures to disclose material by the prosecution led me to the conclusion that, in respect of eight other defendants, it would not be fair to try them or they could not have a fair trial."

More from the Beeb here and here. The HMRC press release is available from here. ®

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