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Tuesday, 12 March, 2002, 15:21 GMT
Developer bribed councillors
Farmhouse
Birks and Higginson lived in the 150,000 farmhouse
A property developer from Doncaster accused of bribing councillors has been found guilty of two charges of corruption.

Alan Hughes, 63, has been on trial at Nottingham Crown Court along with six other people caught up in claims of a planning scandal in Doncaster.

A former planning chairman and former mayor have already been found guilty of corruption.

The case was brought following allegations that Hughes had given money and presents, including a farmhouse, in order to secure planning permission.

Corrupt favours

Hughes, from Bessacarr, Doncaster, has been found guilty of two charges of corruption but not guilty on a third charge.

Doncaster Council's former planning chairman Peter Birks, 58, from Bentley, had already been found guilty of corruption on Monday.

Stephanie Higginson, Birks' 50-year-old partner, and Gordon Armitage, 62, Hughes' financial adviser who lives in Littlemoor, Chesterfield, were also found guilty on Monday of aiding and abetting corruption.

But on Tuesday John Dainty, 59, the Tory group leader of Doncaster Council, who lives in Blaxton, was found not guilty of corruption.

Also on Tuesday, the former mayor of Doncaster Raymond Stockhill, 68, from Stainforth, was found guilty of corruption.

Greenbelt land

His 36-year-old daughter Janet Jones, from Dunscroft, was cleared of two charges of aiding and abetting.

Developer Hughes owned greenbelt land at Branton, South Yorkshire.

The court was told he offered bribes totalling 200,000 to get it allocated for housing in the early 1990s.

He sold the land and pocketed 2.25m.

Birks and Higginson lived in a farmhouse valued at 150,000, which was offered to them as a sweetener for planning favours.

Discrepancies

During the trial prosecutor David Farrer QC told the court that after police began investigating, they found a series of "fabrications which were crudely designed" to hide the truth about the farmhouse.

When the property was searched, police discovered a small black book which it was claimed was a record of mortgage payments to Hughes by Birks and Higginson during 1994.

Mr Farrer said: "The entries on the first few pages have, as one would expect been filed using different coloured pens.

"If that is a genuine record then it goes a long way to say that this was a sale and not a corrupt gift.

"However, when enquiries were made with the makers of the note book it appeared that particular type did not become available until 1996."

'Complex inquiry'

Immediately following the sentencing police released a short statement.

It said: "This has been a complex and protracted inquiry involving a small team of dedicated police.

"We have been assisted throughout our inquiries by officers of Doncaster Council and members of the public.

"South Yorkshire Police jointly with the Crown Prosecution Service have already commenced confiscation proceedings in relation to these matters."


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