Self-styled lord known as 'Fast Eddie' jailed for $6.5 million fraud

An entrepreneur from London whose lavish home was used in scenes from Oscar-winning film The King's Speech and for a less mainstream "porn disco" has been jailed for a multimillion-pound fraud.

Self-styled "Lord" Edward Davenport, 45, was the mastermind of an "advanced fee fraud" scheme in which scores of businesses were ripped off.

Davenport, who also went by the moniker "Fast Eddie", and five others collected more than £4 million ($6.4 million) from at least 51 victims between 2006 and 2009, prosecutors said.

Davenport - who owns Sierra Leone's former high commission in west London - set up Gresham Ltd in 2005 and pretended it was a respectable business with 50 years' experience of sourcing huge commercial loans.

"To outward appearances it was long-established, wealthy and prestigious," said Simon Mayo, QC, for the prosecution at Southwark Crown Court.

"It operated from expensive London premises and had a balance sheet showing significant assets. It had a flattering corporate brochure and used headed notepaper that lent an image of corporate credibility.

"That image, however, deliberately cultivated by these defendants, was entirely false. In truth it was a company which had only been set up by Edward Davenport in late 2005. It was essentially worthless. Its only business was fraud."

At least 51 people were scammed, the BBC reported.

In Austria, two victims had contractors waiting to start work building a leisure resort after Gresham promised 34 million euro ($47 million).


An Indian businessman paid Gresham £285,000 expecting a loan of 183 million euro, prosecutors said.

'Living the high life'

Edward Ormus Sharington Davenport was born on July 11, 1966. The son of a wealthy restaurateur, he first made his name in the 1980s for throwing "Gatecrasher Balls" - wild parties for wealthy teenagers.

His website boasts that he "lives the high life in Monaco and London, rubbing shoulders with celebrity friends such as Jean-Claude Van Damme, Pink and Fifty Cent".

"He has a jet, beautiful homes and a collection of sports cars which would make any man jealous, including a Ferrari 360 Spider, an Aston Martin Virage Volante, a Rolls Royce Phantom and a Lamborghini," the website said.

Davenport did not claim to be a noble but a "lord of the manor", a title that can be bought and sold.

Davenport, his expression as unchanging as a cardboard cutout, is shown on the website posing with celebrities including Simon Cowell, Vivienne Westwood, Prince Albert of Monaco, Paris Hilton and Al Pacino.

Last year, he was banned by Westminister Council for using his home for events including a masked ball, pole-dancing lessons, and a party for brandy maker Courvoisier featuring a "giant punchbowl" - a pool filled with 1000 litres of alcohol "so big you can row across it".

The mansion has eight reception rooms, a billiard room, a club room with a large jacuzzi, a ballroom and 24 bedrooms.

It featured prominently in The King's Speech as the consulting room of speech therapist Lionel Logue, and was also used to film the late Amy Winehouse's music video Rehab.

Jailed for seven years

Davenport, of Portland Place, central London, was jailed last month for seven years and eight months along with his lieutenant Peter Riley, 64, of The Old Bakery, Brentwood, Essex.

They were convicted of a single count of conspiracy to defraud following a three-month trial along with Borge Andersen, 66, of Roland Gardens, South Kensington, south west London.

Andersen, a Danish national, was jailed for 39 months at the same court on September 12. He was also disqualified from being a company director for seven years, under Section 2 of the Directors Disqualification Act.

The case can be reported after the final defendant, David Horsfall, of Deanery Road, Godalming, Surrey, admitted fraud by false representation. David McHugh, 53, of Birch Avenue, Warrington, Cheshire, admitted conspiracy to defraud by producing false company accounts.

And Richard Stephens, 65, formerly Richard Kirkup, of Ennerdale Road, Sheffield, admitted the same charge - he had created the stationery template Gresham used for sending correspondence. The men will be sentenced on November 10. Davenport is appealing against the conviction, his spokesman has said.

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This article Self-styled lord known as 'Fast Eddie' jailed for $6.5 million fraud was originally published in The Sydney Morning Herald.