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1974: Architect jailed over corruption
Architect John Poulson has been jailed for five years for corruption after being found guilty of bribing public figures to win contracts.

Poulson, who was found guilty of conspiracy to make or receive corrupt gifts, admitted that cash or presents worth 30,000 had changed hands, but had denied corruption.

Leeds Crown Court was told that the 63-year-old gave away more than 500,000 in suits, holidays and flowers to win contracts.

After Poulson's business collapsed in 1972, an investigation revealed it had been making payments to several MPs, police officers, health authorities and civil servants.

The Yorkshire architect was found guilty by the jury of 10 men and two women after four hours of deliberations following the trial.

Mr Justice Waller told Leeds Crown Court there was a web of corruption that encompassed 23 local authorities and 300 individuals.

I have never tried to bribe anybody
John Poulson

Poulson continued to protest his innocence and in a statement issued through his solicitor said: "I may have been a fool but I will always maintain that I was innocent of corruption. I have never tried to bribe anybody."

William George Pottinger, 57, a senior Scottish civil servant, was also jailed for five years for corruption.

It was revealed at Leeds Crown Court that Poulson admitted that some of his huge debt arose from income tax frauds and the Inland Revenue had a claim of 678,000 against him.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Waller told Poulson and Pottinger that "the magnitude and evil nature" of what they had both done was such that he would not take into account their age or health.

Mr Justice Waller said: "To offer corrupt gifts strikes at the very foundation of our system. To accept them is a betrayal of trust."

Poulson, of Pontefract, broke down and wept when he heard his defence counsel speak of the courage of his wife and two daughters during the trial.

Donald Herrod, QC, had described his client as "hypocritical, self-righteous and perhaps something of a megalomaniac".

However, the defence team claimed that the prosecution had failed to prove corruption although it had proved greed.

During the trial, Poulson said: "I have squandered money on people I thought were my friends. They conned me. I did not realise what an old twit I had been until I heard some of the evidence here."

Poulson and Pottinger were taken to Armley Prison in Leeds to begin their sentences. They are both considering appeals.

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John Poulson
Architect John Poulson said he was innocent and never tried to bribe anyone

In Context
The trial of John Poulson is estimated to have cost in the region of 1.25m.

It lasted 52 days and was one of the longest for corruption in legal history - with 100 witnesses and 500 documents produced as exhibits in court.

The nub of the case was whether gifts were made either for inducements or rewards, knowing it was wrong.

Poulson was sentenced to an extra two years, taking his total in jail to seven years, after making a confession in prison and pleading guilty to nine charges of corruption and conspiracy.

Donald Herrod, QC, said: "He has nothing to live for and his abiding fear is that he will never complete this sentence because of his ill health."

Poulson died in 1993.

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