TERRY ZAMAN doesn’t like me, I think it’s fair to say. That’s probably an understatement. When he rang the office on Wednesday threatening us with his lawyers over the story on page one, he said he’d never even spoken to me before.
Well, we have spoken, but it was years ago when he was cosying up to Redbrick Mill and Skopos entrepreneur Stephen Battye, Labour MP Ann Taylor, and swanning around town saying he had £15 million to invest in Dewsbury.
I also thought we spoke when he was purporting to be managing director of Kozee Sleep in Ravensthorpe, enraging local residents with his plans for 24-hour bed production. He upsets a lot of people, our little Terry!
And when I smiled and waved ‘hellooo!’ at him outside the remarkable local election count where Khizar Iqbal was kicked out in 2012, he just fixed me with a stare of utter loathing.
Terry does that quite well, even though it’s a bit hard to carry off when you’re dressed up like Lawrence of Arabia and only about 5ft 6ins in your stocking feet.
So I spent much of yesterday trying to reach Terry’s lawyer, at Blacks in Leeds. We managed a dialogue of sorts, eventually,.
As expected none of it was anything to do with Teflon Terry. As usual, not much sticks. He has nothing to do with Hunters estate agency despite local businessmen believing it’s his, nothing to do with The Courts building, despite workers on it being hired and paid by him. All legal and above board for Teflon Terry – which, probably, I don’t doubt.
When he rang our office, Terry said he’d never used lawyers with us before, but that he would if we ran today’s story. He obviously forgot the 2014 letter from high-profile London firm Imran Khan & Partners, threatening us with scores of libel writs, going back years.
But his threat this week was without even knowing the story. We’re not accusing him of breaking any laws, just possibly playing fast and loose with some of the facts.
He may well think he has planning permission for his Track Road site in the bag – and to listen to Ashraf Esat at Hunters it sounds like he has the planners in his pocket too – but for now, he certainly doesn’t.
Terry thinks I’m harrassing him. Ooh, let me see … madrassahs in planning bother, mosques ditto, convicted slum landlord, £18,000 health and safety fine, breaking environmental laws, financial patron of the town’s disgraced Labour MP, chief whip a few years later for a Muslim Tory candidate, business collapsing with loss of over £1m, employing alleged illegal immigrants … can I stop now? If that doesn’t make a prominent businessman and political fixer newsworthy, then I’m in the wrong job.
At the very least the Hunters operation is incredibly close to Terry Zaman – yet he’s never set foot in the place. I’m not implying anything wrong with that by the way. I’m just curious why other estate agents would believe it was his.
The same with The Courts banqueting centre, purportedly owned by a Mohammed Ramzan, someone who I haven’t been able to track down. But the bloke everyone sees? Terry! Again, it’s only a question.
If there’s nothing to hide Mr Zaman, then there’s nothing to be afraid of. Why would you need lawyers for simple questions from a very simple journalist?
THE issue of David Cameron’s offshore money is already yesterday’s fish and chip wrapping, but I actually don’t think it’s any of our business.
So long as anyone satisfies HMRC and other regulatory bodies that their financial activities are legal, what is it to us?
I’m more concerned that the authorities apply the rules fairly to Cameron’s elite cronies, as well as we, the great unwashed. I don’t for a second believe they do.
If Cameron’s dad was smart enough to use perfectly legal offshore investment vehicles to maximise his money, good on him. I wish I was clever or well connected enough to do the same – although I suppose it would help if I had any brass to invest. Retirement? I should cocoa. Bury my laptop with me.
It’s rich that Labour MPs who enjoy lavish patronage from trade unions – many of which also invest offshore – should call for David Cameron’s head. For doing nothing wrong? Stupid.
Labour’s Shadow Trades Union Minister Ian Lavery has lived the high life for years on the back of cash siphoned out of the National Union of Miners’ compensation fund for sick members. He’s a paragon of virtue, isn’t he?
What would be nice to emerge from this mess, is real, concerted action, aimed at closing these loopholes, alongside a multi-national plan to regulate the global tax dodges.
However as long as the UK s to patronise British-affiliate states like Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Caymans, plus closer to home Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man – all favoured cash repositories of David Cameron’s wealthy friends – it will remain just smoke and hot air.
Cameron publishing his squeaky-clean tax affairs is basically a smokescreen for his elite pals not having to.
But whatever the Tories do, if anything, somehow I suspect the super-rich will just find another way round it. They always do.
APROPOS these tax havens, it’s interesting to see the UK doling out £400m in recent years to 18 such countries – including Panama.
Those countries undoubtedly have poverty issues, mostly because they are run by corrupt politicians happy to bank the swag of despots and dictators, but who could not give a hoot about the downtrodden on their doorsteps.
I’m not sure how or why that’s our problem though. And I’m even less sure what the £3,350 we spent on a Panamanian plaque ceremony promoting racial equality achieved. I doubt the £93 on a “drugs and crime project” brought any cartels toppling.
The UK’s national debt continues to rage under George Osborne – so much for ‘austerity’ – yet we employ an entire department of government to fritter taxpayers’ money away on Pacific turtle research and paying for Anguillan boy scouts to have a jolly to Britain. It’s not just me, is it?
I RECEIVED my government leaflet setting out the case for staying in the EU and actually tried to give it a fair read. I couldn’t.
It was full of such mealy-mouthed, fawning sycophancy towards the Brit-hating Brussels Eurocrats that my blood boiled.
Pages of doom-mongering, virtually describing our proud nation as a pathetic, failed state. I scribbled ‘Return to Sender’ and shoved it in the post box.
In a week when I signed government tax cheques for about 13 grand, I was furious that my money should be explicitly used by Cameron and Co to preach about why my businesses should be lorded over by unelected panjandrums in another country.
Is the government handing £9m to the Leave campaigners for propaganda? Not a prayer – but they should, if this was a level playing field.
David Cameron can play as fast and loose (or not) with his finances and take his chances. But when he does that with our sovereignty, then to my mind he has crossed a line. Off with his head.