McGrath fails in new appeal

Failed: Frank McGrath's appeal was rejected by appeal court judges in London
Failed: Frank McGrath's appeal was rejected by appeal court judges in London
Share this article
Have your say

A shamed former council chief jailed for money laundering for a drug trafficker has lost another court appeal.

Frank McGrath, 62, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison at Manchester Crown Court in March 2010, after being found guilty of money laundering for heroin smuggler Silvano Turchet.

He was ordered to pay £925,000 within six months at the same court in April 2011, after a judge ruled that was the amount of his ‘benefit’ from his crimes.

An extra two years was added to his sentence in April last year, after Bolton magistrates heard £444,680 was yet to be paid back.

The ex-deputy leader of Preston Council, formerly of Belton Hill, Fulwood, challenged the Proceeds of Crime confiscation order at London’s Criminal Appeal Court this week, arguing the amount - one of the biggest ever to be demanded of a Lancashire criminal - was too large.

In an appeal prepared by McGrath himself, he claimed Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyers did not disclose documents far enough ahead of the confiscation hearing for him to disprove their claims.

But his bid was dismissed by three of the country’s most senior judges, who said McGrath agreed to the amount at the time and there were no grounds for him to dispute it now.

Mr Justice Bean said McGrath “could not conceivably” now challenge the confiscation order, as he had seen all the relevant documents during his trial and had, in any case, agreed to the sum.

The judge added the Crown Prosecution Service had wanted £1.5m from him, but settled on £925,000 after he conceded that was the amount of his benefit from crime and that he had assets to cover the bill.

Sitting with Lord Justice Davis and Mr Justice Griffith Williams, the judge added: “The applicant was present, he was advised by leading counsel, and he agreed to the amount.”

McGrath, a former Labour councillor for Fishwick and St Matthew’s, was locked up in 2010 after being found guilty of laundering £330,000 for Turchet, an Italian pilot who flew Class A drugs into an airfield in Shropshire in 2006.

A previous appeal by McGrath against his jail sentence was also rejected by the Court of Appeal.