The Poulson Corruption Scandal & The Kenyon Legacy
- An article by amateur fraud investigator David Clark, reviewing the historical background to a case that is sure to make national headlines early in the New Year.
John Garlick Llewellyn Poulson (14 April 1910 – 31 January 1993) was an architect based in Pontefract, West Yorkshire in the nineteen-sixties. Among buildings designed by Poulson are the City House (1962) and International Pool (1965–1968), both in Leeds, and Forster House, Bradford, which was demolished in 2005 as part of the Forster Square redevelopment. He was a Freemason.
His practice employed architects, planners, lawyers and project managers – though Poulson himself never qualified as an architect. The company was responsible for a number of city-centre developments throughout Yorkshire and the North East.
During the latter part of the nineteen-sixties, the practice ran into financial difficulties, resulting in bankruptcy trials in the early nineteen-seventies.
Between 1966 and 1968, working for the firm was one Sir Bernard Kenyon (knighted in 1967), another Freemason, who in fact became chairman of Open Systems Building and two other Poulson companies. At the same time, Sir Bernard Kenyon was also employed by the West Riding of Yorkshire County Council as Clerk (equivalent to Chief Executive Officer in today’s parlance), thus finding himself working for the Council and the Poulson group of companies at the same time. A year later, in 1969, he was dignified with an Honorary Doctor of law degree by Leeds University. At 20-stone, he was a giant of a man, known to use his massive physical presence to dominate and intimidate his Councillors and staff.
But during the bankruptcy hearings on 1972, it became clear that bribes had been paid to secure lucrative local government and other government contracts. The Metropolitan Police pursued an investigation and, on 15th March 1974, Poulson was found guilty of fraud and jailed for seven years.
Others were also convicted, including trade union baron Andrew Cunningham, the former Chair of the Durham Police Authority, and T. Dan Smith (Lab.), the flamboyant Leader of Newcastle City Council – widely known as “The Mouth of the Tyne”.
Sir Bernard Kenyon managed to avoid a custodial sentence.
One of the key witnesses at the trial was the mysterious ‘Miss X’.
Who was ‘Miss X’?
Where has she been for the past forty years?
Over the pond
Moving on to the activities of a short-lived Scarborough company – Belvedere Computer Services (Scarborough) Ltd (Reg.No.1407311 – struck off 22nd October 1976), and from there, on further to the west coast of the United States, to a California corporation with a very similar name, Belvedere Computers Inc. (Reg.Mo.CO9994000 – incorporated on 11th August 1980), of which the two main officers were of British nationality (and well-known to readers of Real Whitby):
- Mr Thomas William (‘Bill’) Miller – President and Chief Executive Officer.
- Miss Jane Margaret Kenyon – Chief Financial Officer, Company Secretary and Agent for Service of Process.
Some time between its incorporation on11th August 1980 and 2nd August 1982, Belvedere Computers Inc. was suspended by the Franchise Tax Board, Sacramento, Cal., USA, culminating in a hearing for unlawful detainer at the Superior Court of the State of California, in and for the County of San Mateo (Case.No.248256), which ruled in favour of the Plaintiff, Christensen Properties Inc. The officers of Belevedere Computers Inc. were not present for the hearing, having absconded to the UK.
With regard to this current and on-going suspension of Belvedere Computers Inc., the corporation can return to good standing if – and only if – officers of the corporation settle all outstanding ‘delinquencies’ (debts) owed by the corporation. Only when that is done can the corporation finally be dissolved – or continue trading.
Back to Blighty
Throughout the nineteen-eighties and nineteen-nineties, Mr. T. W. (‘Bill’) Miller and Miss Jane Margaret Kenyon secured election and/or appointment to a number of local government bodies including North Yorkshire County Council, Scarborough Borough Council and the North York Moors National Park Authority. Mr. T. W. (‘Bill’) Miller became the National Chairman of the Independent Custody Visitors Association (ICVA). In 1992, Miss Jane Margaret Kenyon was appointed to the North Yorkshire Police Authority, and assumed the Chairship of that body in 2002, until its abolition on 22nd November 2012.
And all this while being officers of a suspended California corporation – suspended for debt, and still suspended to this day, thirty-one years later.
Miss Kenyon – Councillor Kenyon – is presently the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Procurement & Legal Services at Scarborough Borough Council. Go figure!