By Robin Turner
Wales Online – 16 January 2008
A builder who overcharged the 94-year-old father of an MP by more than £5,000 has been told by a judge it will cost him nearly £30,000. Paul Grey, 55, of Brynhyfryd, Swansea, has been told to pay back £7,500, plus interest, as well as costs which could amount to as much as £20,000.
Swansea-born Shadow Defence Minister Dr Julian Lewis, Conservative MP for New Forest East, was outraged when Grey quoted his father Sam £1,800 for work on his Victorian home in Uplands, Swansea, in 2004, then charged him £7,500 in cash. He began building a civil case against 57-year-old Grey and taped an abusive late night phone call the builder made to the MP in which he admitted gaining thousands of pounds in work from pensioners.
When the case got under way at the Cardiff Civil Justice Centre last week Grey said he was ashamed of the late night call but was adamant it was drunken bravado only done to “annoy” the MP and the things he said were not true. But Judge Patrick Curran QC in his judgment said although he accepted Grey had been “disinhibited” by drink, he did not accept his intoxication led him to make false admissions.
Dr Lewis said:
“His own arrogance was his downfall. He admitted he had done this sort of thing to other elderly people but then he told me, ‘There is nothing you can ******* do about it.’ Unfortunately for him, there was.”
Judge Curran ordered Grey to pay back the cash he took from Sam Lewis, a retired former tailor, plus interest – a total of £9,762. He was also ordered to pay £12,000 towards the costs of the case as soon as possible with the balance being paid later on.
The MP judged yesterday the costs would be “around the £20,000 mark”. Dr Lewis, 60, said:
“My father had dementia and a terrible short- term memory. If my father wasn’t suffering from dementia he would not have been vulnerable enough for this to have happened.”
The court heard he handed over a total of £7,500 in eight cash payments to Grey, more than four times the original agreed price. Grey told the court he believed other people had taken the cash from Mr Lewis. But in his judgment, Judge Curran said:
“In my view the defendant alone was responsible for the appropriation of the money.”
Swansea West MP Alan Williams said:
“Dr Lewis not only did a great service for his father, he did a great service for elderly people living in Swansea. It shows that they can take people to court and win if they feel they have been taken advantage of.”
Dr Lewis said:
“My father worked as a tailor and worked hard for every penny he earned. I felt enormous anger that someone came along in the evening of his life and took away not hundreds but thousands of pounds belonging to him.
“My father’s family came here from Eastern Europe and this was done in part as a thank you to the people of Swansea who have been so welcoming to us over the years.”
Dr Lewis’s father now lives in a nursing home.
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'CONMAN TOLD TO REPAY MP's FATHER'
BBC News Online – 15 January 2008
A Swansea builder has been ordered to pay a Conservative MP's father almost £10,000 after a judge ruled he had conned him out of thousands of pounds. Shadow Defence Minister Dr Julian Lewis MP took civil action against Paul Grey on behalf of his father Samuel, 94. Dr Lewis recorded conversations with Grey after becoming suspicious of the 57-year-old from Brynhyfryd.
After the judgement at Cardiff County Court the MP for New Forest East said he was "absolutely delighted". He had claimed his father paid £7,500 in cash to Grey between December 2002 and January 2003. Mr Lewis, who now lives in a care home, was living on his own in a Victorian house in Uplands, Swansea when Grey, who had previously done building work for him, took the money.
In the transcript of a recorded conversation, parts of which were read at court, Grey told Dr Lewis he had taken money from several people, including the MP's aunt "just for turning up at her house". Mr Grey had denied conning Mr Lewis and told the court that he had lied in the conversation because he was drunk and wanted to "annoy" the MP after being accused of conning his father. But in a 23-page judgement Judge Patrick QC found in favour of Dr Lewis.
Grey was ordered to pay Mr Lewis £7,500 as well as £2,262 in interest. He must also pay £12,000 costs.Afterwards Dr Lewis said the judge
"was incredibly impressive, and I'm delighted that he saw through this rogue.
"The main reason my sister and I wanted to do this was that the city of Swansea offered our family a home for almost 100 years.
"This is our way of saying thank you to the people of Swansea, by warning them in the most high-profile way we could, of the danger to old and vulnerable people posed by this villain."
Referring to his legal costs, Dr Lewis said:
"We have taken a large financial risk, because we were determined to stop him."
He said their father, a tailor who retired at 85, made "very little money". Dr Lewis added:
"To have somebody like this come along in the evening of his life and rip him off for thousands of pounds is beneath the bottom layer of contempt."