I READ a shocking piece of investigative journalism in The Sunday Times last week.
Not shocking as in rubbish, but shocking as in barely believable. What I couldn’t subsequently believe, is how it wasn’t front page news in every other newspaper or leading every TV news bulletin.
In Mafia circles, there is something called ‘omerta’ – a code of silence. Crime, corruption and fraud on an industrial scale, operating seamlessly beneath and alongside ‘normal’ life in everyday society.
We’re familiar with it from our TV screens, from American and Sicilian dramas. The Godfather and Goodfellas. The Sopranos. But here? In England? Surely not.
Most reasonable people might think revelations that organised criminal gangs had stolen and defrauded £8 billon – that’s £8,000,000,000 – from British taxpayers over a 20-year period, might attract a few headlines, no?
Especially if it transpired that the British tax authorities – HMRC, aka the Inland Revenue – had known about it and kept quiet about it.
But nope. Not a word. Omerta.
How has this large-scale criminal activity carried on so brazenly under our noses, without ever coming to light?
According to The Sunday Times, like this:
On a phenomenal scale, a network of companies and businesses create fake identities and fake employees to milk monumental fortunes out of the benefits system; they branch off into obtaining fake mortgages and credit card loans which are never repaid because once the money has been extracted the ‘people’ disappear. They never existed, except on laptops and PCs and in the cunning operations of people who have infiltrated local government, local politics and beyond.
Business sidelines have been organised car crash insurance scams, slick VAT fraud on an international scale, the counterfeit goods industry … it goes on and on and has done for more than two decades, with the authorities knowing all about it.
Indeed worse than that, the corrupted British courts – yes, our lorded judges themselves, those paragons of moral and legal righteousness – have systematically colluded with the state, and thus in effect with the criminal gangs, to keep this out of the public eye.
Why would that be, you ask? Why indeed – and who are these modern-day Mafioso?
Well, therein lies the predictable answer to all of your questions, because it isn’t so much about what’s been done, as who is doing it. They are neither American nor Sicilian, as you have probably already guessed. Nor Poles, nor Irish, nor eastern European.
Suffice to say that money specifically linked to this fraud was traced to Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani compound where he was killed. Evidence of the crimes was found on laptops in al Qaeda hideouts in Afghanistan’s mountains.
Shehzad Tanweer, who with Dewsbury’s Mohammed Siddique Khan slaughtered innocents in London on Jul 7, 2005, had been linked to the criminal gangs two years prior. HMRC estimates at least £80 million from the crimes was funnelled directly into funding terrorism.
Hate preacher Abu Hamza was witnessed by undercover HMRC officers persuading young men to work in the crime syndicates before he rose to fame as a senior al Qaeda recruiter.
One syndicate member was Afra Syab Ilyas, very handily an accountant with Burnley Borough Council, until he heard Hamza preaching and went off on jihad, where he was promptly blown up.
Why this silent complicity, you must ask? Why?
Well, HMRC has sat on this all these years under the weak excuse that they were protecting private tax records. Really? Yes really. They declined to inform police or MI5 supposedly based on bureaucratic process. Except we know it wasn’t.
Meanwhile, and where individual fraud cases were brought – and these types of scams will ring bells for local readers – where the organised gangsters were involved, judges imposed reporting restrictions.
Even when the masterminds had escaped back to Pakistan or Dubai where they funnelled their money (and as an aside, anyone know any local ‘businessmen’ who spend a lot of time in Dubai?) judges kept their identities secret.
It’s a national scandal, one even condemned by the admirable Rochdale sex-gang prosecutor Nazir Afzal.
But we know why. Just as now when the courts are processing dozens, hundreds, of rape gangs through the courts, the blatant deceit of ‘reporting restrictions’ is used to hide the industrial scale abuse, because it is specific to one community.
The collusion of our entire establishment – politicians, police, CPS, judges, HMRC – unites to place the disgraced, discredited and laughably idiotic ideal of ‘community cohesion’ beyond British justice.
As with the rape gangs and our complicit local authorities, police and social services, so it seems with the criminal gangs too. Omerta.
PS: I do hope you’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned the ‘word’ that shall not be named!
PPS: How coincidental that this story should break in the week we can reveal that the ‘interesting’ Terry Zaman has been struck off as a director for six years.
Given how Zaman has played fast and loose with his multifarious network of companies and associates over the years, with many of his commercial activities being carried out through proxies – like Hunters estate agents, and development properties in Dewsbury town centre – you do wonder why this has taken so long.
Worse still, with Zaman merely replacing himself as company director by his wife or sons, you have to wonder if it will make the slightest difference. And I can’t help but wonder what friends our Terry has in high places…
I WAS a young reporter, very much wet behind the ears, and an infant Keith Tate Jr was rolling in his baby walker around the St Paulinus Amateur Boxing Club gym above the old police garages, when I first met his dad.
In all the millions of words that have gone to print since, that feature piece was one of the few I still recall with fondness and pride.
I didn’t see a lot of Keith and Sally Tate (pictured right) over the years, but when I did it was with the familiarity of feeling part of their extended family. They had that welcoming, comforting gift. Sally still had, when I popped up to the family home in Cleckheaton this week.
When Gary Sykes completed Keith’s mission in 2005 at the Excel Centre in London’s east end, winning a senior National ABA title, I was there, seated a few rows back.
Keith rolled with every punch, threw every jab, bobbed and weaved in perfect synchronicity.
He needn’t have worried – but always did – because Gary’s victory that night was the most one-sided on the evening’s card.
I can’t speak to the hundreds of fighters Keith produced, but technically Gary Sykes was a perfect fit for the Keith Tate mould, a boxer’s boxer.
It’s rather a cliché, boxing being an escape route from the mean streets for young men – and these days women – but no less true for all of that.
As his son Mark said this week, Keith saw the best in all, never gave up on a person or a battle, was convinced and lived by the doctrine that hard work, self-belief and discipline can win any prize. He had the precious gift of being able to pass that philosophy on.
There were no shortcuts in Keith’s gym, nor in his life. Every foster child, often from fractured, loveless backgrounds, lived by his and Sally’s same rules. Tough love at times, I’d guess. Many a tear amongst the laughter.
There will be lots of both at Keith’s funeral. Standing room only, I imagine.
It’s another well worn cliché that ‘they don’t make ‘em like that any more’. In Keith Tate’s case, they most certainly don’t – and modern life, modern society, is immeasurably poorer for it. Farewell, old friend.