Ex-Thanet council leader Sandy Ezekiel 'acted dishonestly to secure sale of two homes', court told
by Keith Hunt
A council chief acted improperly and dishonestly to secure
the purchase of two adjoining properties, a court heard.
Sandy Ezekiel "hid behind" a friend to disguise the true nature
of the transactions when buying house near Margate seafront and did
the same when purchasing an adjoining derelict shop after using his
influence to make sure the owners were persuaded to sell, it was
Maidstone Crown Court heard "small but attractive" 12b King
Street in the old town was owned by Thanet District Council and had
been empty for about seven years. It was renovated but a dispute
with contractors meant it had not been sold.
Next door was 12a, a rundown shop that had traded as This 'n'
That. The owners, Alan Douglas and his wife, had bought it and
obtained planning permission to develop it.
Alisdair Williamson, prosecuting, said the development had been
delayed for some time at the request of the council, which was then
It then transpired the couple would not be able to develop 12a
in the way they wanted because of flood risk.
"They felt, understandably, hard done by," said Mr Williamson.
"They were left with a ground floor only commercial property. 12b
had no garden and it was obvious there were some advantages in
joining the two properties and knocking down 12a for use as a
"Mr Douglas will say he was promised first refusal to buy 12b
when the renovation was complete and the dispute with the
In October 2008, the council put 12b on the market for £149,995
- but Mr Douglas was not told. It was difficult to sell because it
had no garden or parking.
"Whether or not council officers had formed a view about 12a and enforcement proceedings, Mr Ezekiel sought in the clearest terms to influence that decision..." – Alisdair Williamson, prosecuting
The price was dropped in January 2009 to £135,000 and the only
interest came from Margate resident Sandra Blackgrove, who made a
number of offers from early 2009.
She was eventually led to believe that an offer of £117,500
would be acceptable, but she heard nothing.
"Frustrated, and with her heart set on this property, on
September 22 2009 she emailed Sandy Ezekiel as leader of the
council to ask for his help," said the prosecutor.
Ezekiel (pictured above) contacted council officer Justin
Thomson and asked to be copied in to any correspondence on the
Mr Thomson told Miss Blackgrove that at least £120,000 would be
needed and she increased her offer to that figure.
Mr Williamson said it as no coincidence that Ezekiel's best man
at his wedding, Phillip Emanuel, 64, became involved.
A man purporting to be Emanuel's brother David viewed the
property on September 27. But David Emanuel, who has since died,
gave a statement to police that he had never viewed the
On September 28, Phillip Emanuel, who had never been in the
property, made an offer of £121,500.
Mr Williamson said Ezekiel, 59, used the information from Miss
Blackgrove and the council officer.
"As leader of the council, he could not be seen to be buying
council property, so he needed a proxy," he said. "He persuaded his
friend Mr Emanuel to put in offers and pose as the buyer when he
was the true purchaser."
When Miss Blackgrove increased her offer to £123,000, Ezekiel
On September 30, Emanuel increased his offer to £125,001. It was
accepted on October 2 and the sale was completed in March
Sandy Ezekiel is on trial
at Maidstone Crown Court
In January 2011, Robert Patterson, head of the council's legal
services, was asked to investigate the matter. He checked the
council file and when he discovered Emanuel had been Ezekiel’s best
man he probed further.
Land registry documents showed Emanuel had on November 29 2010
transferred 12b to Ezekiel for no payment.
Mr Williamson said up to this point there had been no
notification that Ezekiel had any interest in 12b, but he had, in
fact, provided all the money for its purchase.
Emanuel claimed it was a loan, but documents showed it was
always intended that Ezekiel would be the true purchaser.
The prosecutor said Ezekiel failed from February 2010 until
January 2011 to register his beneficial interest in 12b. He had 28
days to register his interest when the property was transferred to
him in November 2011.
Mr Douglas had hoped to turn 12a into a juice or smoothie bar
and was disgruntled that he had not been given the chance to
Ezekiel denied requesting that enforcement action be taken with
respect to 12a. Mr Douglas sold 12a, according to documents, to
Emanuel in February 2011. The cheques for the deposit and
completion were from Ezekiel.
Mr Williamson said it was strange that Ezekiel and Emanuel were
to claim that the reason the sale proceeded in Emanuel's name was
that their solicitor had advised them that if having opened
negotiations in Emanuel's name they were to change the purchaser's
name, the vendor may feel they were "pulling a fast one" or "trying
to make a quick buck".
"The true reasons, of course, that Mr Ezekiel remained hidden
during the purchase of 12a were that a, it would reveal he had
improperly asked for enforcement proceedings to be carried out and
b, it may have led to the discovery of his interest in 12b," he
told the jury.
"Whether or not council officers had formed a view about 12a and
enforcement proceedings, Mr Ezekiel sought in the clearest terms to
influence that decision. The Crown say he did so with the aim of
forcing Mr Douglas to sell his property to him.
"As an elected councillor, he had a duty to act in the interests
of the council and constituents. What he did is act improperly and
dishonestly in his own interests.
"The Crown says that throughout the proceedings Mr Emanuel
willingly aided and abetted Mr Ezekiel by, among other things,
posing as the purchaser in both transactions by signing the deeds
Ezekiel, of Crow Hill, Broadstairs, denies four charges of
misconduct in public office. Emanuel, of Laleham Gardens, Margate,
denies aiding and abetting.
The trial before High Court judge Mr Justice Nicol is expected
to last just over a week.
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