Page last updated at 15:43 GMT, Friday, 17 July 2009 16:43 UK

Ex-royal officer guilty of scam


The BBC's Colette McBeth spoke to Paul Page's wife after the ruling

A former royal protection officer is facing jail after being convicted of a £3m betting and property scam.

Paul Page, 38, of Grays, Essex, conned colleagues and others to fund a life of luxury and a gambling addiction.

The father of five was found guilty of fraud, but cleared of intimidation, and will be sentenced on 30 July.

During his trial at Southwark Crown Court, he claimed colleagues played poker for cash and traded porn in breaks during Buckingham Palace shifts.

Page's barrister John Cooper, who withdrew from the case during the trial leaving Page representing himself, had suggested that Royalty Protection officers posed for pictures on the Queen's throne, and traded pornography at royal palaces.

'Rampant deceit'

He said they handled firearms while drunk, sold steroids, slept on duty, ran gambling rings and smuggled "uninvited and unvetted" friends to royal garden parties.

But the "pie in the sky" claims were dismissed by prosecuting QC Douglas Day as "nothing more than diversionary tactics" designed to cloud his "blatant dishonesty".

The ability to inspire confidence and to sound plausible even when telling the most outlandish lies was very much Mr Page's stock in trade
Douglas Day QC

Page was told by Judge Geoffrey Rivlin that he faced a "substantial sentence of imprisonment".

"But then I think you already know that," said the judge.

Many of Page's 57 "innocent dupes" included police officers guarding the Queen, the trial heard.

He spent years defrauding his associates and friends out of their life savings, redundancy cash, pension pay-outs, retirement money and loans.

The court heard some were pushed to the brink of financial ruin by his "rampant deceit" and several saw their marriages crumble under the stress.

All thought they were investing in a thriving property development company, the jury heard.

Their money funded Page's expensive lifestyle and gambling addiction, paid debts and kept afloat his ailing "Currency Club" investment scheme.

"The ability to inspire confidence and to sound plausible even when telling the most outlandish lies was very much Mr Page's stock in trade," said Douglas Day QC, prosecuting.

'No money left'

Victims, who were promised returns as high as 120% and plied with glossy brochures filled with "lie after lie", said Page was "charismatic, plausible and persuasive".

They told the court he played on their sympathy to avoid returning their money, including inventing the deaths of several relatives. His father "died" three times, he pretended he had been burgled and claimed that a tarantula had infected his eye.

One victim was his best man Fahim Baree, a travel agent who remortgaged his mother's house, handed over £190,000 and introduced others to his friend.

The jury convicted Page on Thursday of fraudulent trading between 2003 and 2006, but the decision could not be reported because of legal reasons involving a second count of intimidating Mr Baree.

After a further deliberations on Friday, Page was cleared of that count.

Last month Page's wife Laura, 42, was cleared of all wrongdoing after being accused of helping her husband launder money defrauded from friends and colleagues.

She was also cleared of intimidating and threatening to kill one of their victims after he spoke to police.

She sobbed as the unanimous verdict was returned and her husband was remanded in custody.

The judge said there would be no confiscation hearing "because there is no money left".

Page joined Essex Police in 1992, moved to the Met three years later and then transferred to SO14, the Royalty Protection Command, in 1998.

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