William Flannigan 'victim of deflection plan' court hears

William Flannigan
Image caption William Flannigan denies 10 counts of fraud by misrepresentation

A holiday park owner accused of mis-selling chalets was the victim of a plot to deflect scrutiny away from a council, a court has heard.

William Flannigan is alleged to have mislead buyers of homes at Lakeminster Park in Beverley, East Yorkshire.

Hull Crown Court heard claims the developer was the target of a "carefully worked out strategy".

Mr Flannigan, 51, of Stanneylands Road, Wilmslow, denies 10 counts of fraud by misrepresentation.

Christopher Harding, for the defence, told the jury of a plan "formulated by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council and [Hull law firm] Gosschalks to attack Mr Flannigan ... with the intention to deflect scrutiny and public concern away from the council".

'Serious breach'

The park owner is alleged to have sold properties as permanent homes knowing they only had planning permission to be used for holiday purposes.

Under cross-examination, Peter Ashcroft, the council's former head of planning, dismissed the suggestion Humberside Police had been involved by the council to avoid it facing any legal action.

He said Lakeminster Park had been "a serious breach of planning policy, which could have set a very dangerous precedent for other holiday homes".

The court also heard the law firm had only become involved because residents were advised to take legal advice after being told their homes did not have valid planning permission.

Image caption More than 200 people lived in the 76 chalets

The judge reminded the jury its "primary concern is what residents were told about the purchase of the homes. Eventually that's what you're going to decide".

The park on the outskirts of Beverley was home to about 200 people.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council took action to evict the residents of the 76 properties after the authority rejected retrospective planning permission in 2012.

The case continues.

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