Northampton

Northampton Town loan: £1m spent on probe

Sixfields Stadium Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The £10.25m loaned to Northampton Town was meant to redevelop the stadium

A council has spent more than £1m trying to claw back a missing £10m loan, the BBC can reveal.

An analysis of Northampton Borough Council's spending over the past two-and-a-half years shows £1,057,000 was paid to legal firms engaged in the recovery effort.

No money has been recovered and police arrested seven people in connection with the missing loan.

The borough council did not respond to repeated requests for a comment.

In total £10.25m was loaned to Northampton Town to rebuild its stadium and redevelop nearby land, but the work wasn't completed after contractors weren't paid.

The authority apologised following a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2016, which said the loan was rushed through without sufficient checks.

The BBC analysed the council's monthly spending since October 2015, the month after it announced the club had missed two loan repayments and recovery efforts began.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Former Northampton Town chairman David Cardoza saw off a council legal bid

It shows regular transfers to law firm Osborne Clarke, which represented the council in High Court proceedings against former Cobblers chairman David Cardoza and his wife.

The name of the firm has been redacted, but the BBC has obtained its Supplier Identification Number and matched this to payments within published spreadsheets.

Another firm, Shakespeare Martineau, has received £66,000.

On its website, the company says it got involved when the authority "wanted to know what happened" to the loan.

"We advised the council on various legal processes," it said.

On Wednesday the council's cabinet excluded the press and public from a meeting in which the latest and future loan recovery efforts were discussed.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Seven people have been arrested in an investigation into the missing millions

The meeting was to hear legal strategy and ongoing litigation against individuals, whose identities have not been disclosed.

Last March, former Northampton Town chairman Mr Cardoza saw off a council High Court bid to pay back £180,000 he got from the club in 2015.

The council's application for an immediate summary judgement in respect of the £180,000, which was part of a much larger claim, was dismissed by the court.

At the time Mr Cardoza said: "The council continues to incur hundreds of thousands of pounds in costs pursuing proceedings that are destined to fail."

In 2016, the council also obtained a ruling that solicitors could keep half the proceeds of any sale of Mr Cardoza's £1.2m family home in case of further legal action.

In a new statement, detectives said staff are examining "vast quantities of complex material" before presenting a case to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The statement added this process "will take several months to complete".

The BBC approached Osborne Clarke for comment, but has not received a reply.

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