Dragons’ Den star’s business conned out of £520k by Brexit movie producer

A Tory activist who produced a film about Brexit conned Dragon's Den entrepreneur James Caan's business into investing £519,000 in his company.

David Shipley was one of the leading voices behind the pro-Leave film Brexit: The Movie which featured Nigel Farage and David Davis.

It came out a month before the 2016 referendum.

Shipley, 37, admitted fraudulently gaining a £519,000 investment in his financial recruitment company by altering his bank statements to inflate his earnings.

Bespectacled Shipley appeared at Southwark Crown Court in a smart blue suit and remained expressionless as he was jailed for three years and nine months.

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Gareth Munday, prosecuting, earlier told the court: "Between 2011 and June 2014 Mr Shipley was employed by a firm specialising in financial recruitment.

"He worked to place people in employment within a financial institution. After leaving, he proposed a new business venture which was a recruitment and financial advice firm.

"In order to fund the start up of the business he sought funding from the company Resourcing Capital Ventures.

"It was a Dragon's Den style pitch."

Shipley was asked to prove his own income which would also be used to finance the business, as well as proving his expertise in financial recruitment.

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He used his P60 to show a salary of £377,000 and that £540,000 had been put in his bank account which he said was from commissions.

"On that assurance they agreed to fund Spitfire and it was created," Mr Munday said.

"However the bank statements and the P60 were false. He later admitted that he photoshopped the documents but denied that he had done anything wrong."

Mr Munday told the court his salary was less than £60,000, describing Shipley as an underachiever.

He said: "Between the years of 2011 and 2014 the only commission he had earned was £19,928.

"Essentially he had not placed people and he had in fact left his previous employment under a cloud. He had failed to turn up for his employment and when asked, he said his dad had died.

"The company found out about the lie when they phoned his house to express their condolences and spoke to his father.

"When interviewed by police Mr Shipley said he had not done anything wrong, simply photoshopped his statements, it was a white lie."

Benjamin Narain, defending, said the Tory activist showed genuine remorse.

"He felt guilt and embarrassment, he is genuinely sorry for being involved in this offence," he said.

"He accepts the forged bank statements and P60 were wrong," he said.

"However all losses from this business do not stem from that fraud.

"Losses happen because businesses fail but it did not fail solely because of Mr Shipley."

The barrister said Resourcing Capital Ventures had only lost around £166,000 as they had reclaimed a great deal of the money by selling their shares back to Shipley.

But reading a statement from a representative of RCV, Judge Martin Griffith said: "This man said that without the bank statements we would not have touched him with a barge pole.

"They say they would not have even taken the meeting."

Mr Narain had urged the court to 'read between the lines' and consider that Shipley was in 'a lot of pain.'

"He had an MRI on Tuesday for a bowel problem, he has seen several doctors and in his experience with the NHS they have been quick,' Mr Narain said.

"We can read between the lines here but he is in a lot of pain, using the bathroom in double figures, often needing to shower and wash himself afterwards."

Mr Narain added that Shipley's career in politics was over forever.

He has undergone extensive tests for an undiagnosed illness in his throat and was recently awaiting the results for an MRI scan on his bowel.

"It must have been perfectly clear to you that that was a load of old rubbish," the judge said about Shipley's defence that photoshopping the P60 was a 'white lie'.

"You must have known you were guilty of the offence."

Judge Griffith added: "As far as I'm concerned medical reports show that you're perfectly well for me to sentence to custody.

"Thank heavens you haven't got a (serious medical condition) and we've found that out now.

"Your possible political career has now gone well there we are, that's what happens when you commit an offence of dishonesty.

"In your case I'm told that's what's happened. Good."

Shipley, of Broomfield Hill, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, admitted one count of fraud by false representation.

A further count of fraud by abuse of position was ordered to lie on file.

He was sentenced to three years and nine months imprisonment and disqualified from being a director for seven years.

A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing is due to take place at a later date.

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