'Bribed' Suffolk ex-Royal Household official on trial

Hampton Court Palace Nine men and a woman face charges over alleged fraud concerning the Royal Palaces

A top official in the Royal Household has been charged with receiving payments of more than £100,000 to award contracts for work at royal palaces.

Ron Harper, from Glemsford, Suffolk, worked as the deputy property manager from 1994 until suspension in 2012.

He appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Tuesday with eight other men and one woman, who all indicated not guilty pleas.

The trial is set to begin at Southwark Crown Court on 12 August.

It is alleged that between 2006 and 2011, a number of company directors bribed Mr Harper, 61, in return for him awarding them large contracts for work at the Royal Palaces.

Luke Bulpitt, a lawyer with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) specialist crime division, said it had authorised charges against nine men and a woman in connection with alleged fraudulent activity concerning property management at the Royal Palaces.

The work was funded by the then Civil List, now called the Sovereign Grant, and paid by the government to the Royal Household.

Kensington Palace It is alleged some payments were funded as a result of individuals agreeing to an inflated price for the work

Mr Bulpitt said: "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 Steven 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. A fourth company, it is alleged, was also awarded work in the Royal Palaces and provided Mr 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.

"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."

Mr Harper is charged with four counts of conspiracy to give and receive corrupt payments.

Steven Thompson, 60, of Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, and Bernard Gackowski, 61, of Keyworth, Nottinghamshire, former directors of Melton Power Services, are both charged with one count of conspiracy to give and receive corrupt payments and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud by abuse of position.

Glyn Orridge, 65, of Melton Mowbray, a director of GO Power, and Matthew Neath, 34, of Melton Mowbray, a director of Borrough Property Services, are both charged with one count of conspiracy to commit fraud by abuse of position.

David Woodhams, 46, of Stanmer Village, Brighton, a former director of DWEC, Aseai Zlaoui, 39, of Witham, Essex, and Christopher Murphy, 54, of Witham, Essex, directors of BSI Nordale and Harry Howard, 80, of Chadderton, a director of Atlantic 2000, are all charged with one count of conspiracy to give and receive corrupt payments.

Alan Rollinson, 65, of Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, a relative of Harper's, is charged with one count of converting or transferring criminal property.

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