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Norfolk gangmaster jailed

PUBLISHED: 12:13 26 November 2008 | UPDATED: 11:06 08 July 2010

Ian Clarke

A well known Norfolk gangmaster at the heart of a £2m fraud centred on migrant workers in East Anglia was today jailed for four a half years.

Peter Wing, 53, ran Brook Staffhire in Swaffham which was involved in a scam to cream off PAYE, National Insurance and VAT payments which should have gone to HM Revenue and Customs.

A well known Norfolk gangmaster at the heart of a £2m fraud centred on migrant workers in East Anglia was today jailed for four a half years.

Peter Wing, 53, ran Brook Staffhire in Swaffham which was involved in a scam to cream off PAYE, National Insurance and VAT payments which should have gone to HM Revenue and Customs.

Migrant workers thought payments had been paid to the authorities, whereas they had been pocketed by Wing and other recruitment firm bosses.

Norwich Crown Court heard that Wing had been a key figure in the community in Swaffham and had been chairman of the town's football club, supported the local theatre group and had also helped many foreign workers get jobs and homes.

He got involved in the fraud to support his struggling recruitment business and has now “lost everything.”

Police searched Wing's home - a luxury converted barn - and found £15,000 stashed in the side of a pool table. Officers have also put the home and various vehicles under restraint and a confiscation hearing is being held next year.

Jonathon Kinnear, prosecuting, said the fraud centred on supply of temporary staff but that was “a sham.”

“The invoices and paperwork found at Brook Staffhire apparently emanating from the suppliers was false.

“Its sole purpose was to create a fictitious business that allowed Brook Staffhire to retain the vast majority of the output VAT received from the processors, sums that the evidence shows were subsequently split amongst the conspirators.”

Wing, of Meadow Road, Narborough, admitted conspiracy to cheat the Revenue out of PAYE and National Insurance and asked for a further offence of conspiracy to cheat the Revenue out of VAT to be taken into consideration.

He has also been banned from being a company director for seven years.

Judge Alisdair Darroch said: “You have clearly done a great deal in the community. You have supported it and provided some facilities for these foreign workers.”

But he added the offences had to be dealt with by a custodial sentence.

The judge said: “You may not have dreamt up the fraud but you have been involved in it in a significant way for a very long time. A particularly aggravating feature is that the workers who are not particularly well paid have to surrender that money meant to benefit the country and it is not meant to go to you for high living.”

Other members of the gang who were involved in the fraud with Wing have already been sentenced.

After the case, Det Con Geoff Peck, of Norfolk Police, said: “We are very, very pleased with the result. It reflects the seriousness of the offences. It also reflects how it impacts on migrant workers.”

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