Royal official to face trial over £100k palace contracts bribery allegations

Gurjit Degun
30 July 2014

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30 July 2014 | Gurjit Degun

A former deputy property manager at the Royal Household has been accused of taking more than £100,000 in bribes to award large contracts.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has alleged between 2006 and 2011, a number of company directors bribed Ron Harper to award their businesses large contracts for work at the royal palaces.

Harper worked at the Royal Household from 1994 until he was suspended in 2012. He will face trial at Southwark Crown Court, along with nine others involved in the alleged fraudulent activity.

Luke Bulpitt, a lawyer with the CPS Specialist Crime Division, said: “Following an investigation by Leicestershire Police’s Financial Investigation Unit, the CPS has authorised charges against nine men and a woman in connection with alleged fraudulent activity concerning property management at the royal palaces.

“Between 2006 and 2011, it is alleged that Mr Harper was paid in excess of £100,000 by Christopher Murphy, Aseai Zlaoui, David Woodhams, Bernard Gackowski and Stephen Thompson, the directors of three companies who were, during the same period, each awarded large contracts for work at the Royal Palaces. Two of the three companies additionally received ‘Royal Warrants’.”

He added it is claimed another company was also awarded work in the royal palaces and provided Harper “with an oil tank and boiler system for his home free of charge”.

“It is also alleged that some payments were funded as a result of individuals agreeing to an inflated price for work undertaken, with the excess used in part to fund bribes,” added Bulpitt. “In addition, it is alleged that a family member of Mr Harper was used to receive payments.”

The 10 individuals are charged with six offences, including conspiracy to give and receive corrupt payments, conspiracy to commit fraud by abuse of position and converting or transferring criminal property.

He said the CPS has decided not to take further action against nine other relatives and company staff “as there is insufficient evidence to warrant criminal charges”.

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