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1987: Lester Piggott jailed for three years
Former champion jockey, Lester Piggott, has been sentenced to three years imprsionment after being found guilty of an alleged tax fraud of over 3m.

The 51-year-old remained stony-faced as he was sentenced by Mr Justice Farquharson at Ipswich Crown Court.

But his wife, Susan, collapsed in tears as he was taken to Norwich prison.

Piggott was jailed after failing to declare income to the Inland Revenue of 3.25m.

The biggest sum on the charge sheet relates to an alleged omission of 1,359,726 from additional riding income. Another alleged that for 14 years, from 1971, he omitted income of 1,031,697 from bloodstock operations.

False declarations

Piggott, whose personal fortune is estimated at 20m, is said to have used different names to channel his earnings in secret bank accounts in Switzerland, the Bahamas, Singapore and the Cayman Islands.

The nine times Derby winner has been prosecuted in the biggest individual income tax-dodging case ever brought in Britain and the sentence is the highest to be passed for a personal tax fraud.

Piggott was charged after a joint Customs and Inland Revenue investigation, codenamed Centaur after the halfman, half-horse beast of mythology, into his affairs.

The jockey was said to have signed false declarations to the Inland Revenue during three successive inquiries into his tax affairs between 1970 and 1985.

The judge remarked that Piggott even misled his own accountants "until the matter was forced out of you" last year.

Other leading jockeys and racing figures were also questioned during the inquiry but the Inland Revenue said it was "too early to say" whether more prosecutions will follow.

Top racing figures have been left stunned by the punishment imposed on Piggott, who has become a household name throughout the world.

The champion jockey, Pat Eddery said: "I am shocked and very sad. I did not think he would get three years, but the law is the law."

The sentence was condemned as a "terrible injustice" by the Newmarket trainer, David Thom, who said Piggott had put "more money in the taxman's coffers than any 100 people could have done."

But appeals for leniency by Mr John Mathew, QC, Piggott's counsel, had been rejected by the judge, who said he could not "pass over" the scale of Piggott's VAT and income tax evasion without an invitation to others tempted to cheat.

He will be eligible for parole after one year or if early release is refused, could earn remission of one year for good behaviour.

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Jockey Lester Piggott
Piggott has been sentenced to a three-year prison sentence

In Context
Lester Piggott won the Epsom Derby nine times and became the youngest ever to win the event in 1954 at the tender age of 18.

He rode to victory 5,300 times in more than 30 countries during his 47 years in the saddle.

When he was eventually released from prison he came out of retirement and scored a famous victory in the Breeders' Cup Mile in America.

Aged 56, he claimed the 2,000 Guineas in 1992 on Rodrigo de Triano - his 30th British Classic win.

Piggott eventually retired in 1995, although he took part in a special race at the Melbourne Cup meeting in 2001.

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