He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

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On 5th March, 2015 at Bradford Crown Court, Ralph John Christie was sentenced to seven years in prison at the end of a trial lasting almost eight weeks. He had been found guilty on five counts of fraud by false representation relating to property business dealing on the Greek island of Crete (read more here). The jury found him not guilty on a further fourteen counts, writes Neil Wilby.

The ‘not guilty’ counts included those alleging money laundering and theft. The total of the sums listed on the indictment, in connection with fraud, theft and money laundering, amounted to a staggering sum approaching £50,000,000 (fifty million pounds).

The proceedings in question began with his arrest by West Yorkshire Police in July, 2009. His first appearance at the now defunct Calderdale Magistrates’ Court did not take place until April, 2012, almost three years later. Neil Wilby was present in the press seats.

At that time, there were only three counts on the indictment, linked to just one complainant. In October, 2013, a Greek criminal court exonerated him on much the same wide-ranging charges he was to later face in the United Kingdom.

Born in Leeds in 1961, Ralph Christie was largely based in Crete from 2003 and moved there permanently, with his family, in 2006. A year earlier, he had his first one million euro deal on his books, the purchase of 8 houses in Almyridia. He holds a Greek residency permit. He has maintained his protests of innocence since the day he was convicted. He was released from prison on licence on 4th January, 2018 and has campaigned vigorously to clear his name , ever since.

One significant success, on that torturous journey, is reducing his liability under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) from £1.4 million plus interest to £482,666 plus interest. The count on the indictment concerning an investment made by Howard Tenens Ltd, one of the largest independently owned and operated logistics companies in the UK, in Christie’s land and properties has been called in to question. It now appears highly arguable that it should not have been put before the jury, as there was already a prior High Court court finding concerning the dealings between Tenens and Christie. An Order that Ralph says was compromised between Tenens’ founder, Peter Morris, and himself in January, 2010 in an arrangement witnessed by at least one lawyer.

This part of the police’s Section 16 POCA application, to recover £987,000 connected to the Tenens charge, which led to him being jailed rather than the imposition of a suspended sentence, was deducted from the POCA liability by the judge, HHJ Durham Hall QC in April 2018, again at Bradford Crown Court.

In the event, Christie was ordered to pay back a total of £569,990.64, inclusive of interest, to the complainants in respect of the remaining four frauds for which he was convicted. There are sound reasons why each of those counts could be overturned on appeal.

At the time of the original court case in April, 2012, he was bailed to a Ripon address, although police referred to him at the POCA hearing, six years later, as being ‘a Bradford man who had moved to Crete’. A point confirmed by the fact that he holds a class of Greek residency permit that can only be granted after living there for 10 years. The relevance of those matters unfolds later in this piece.

Ramona Senior, Head of the Economic Crime Unit (ECU) at West Yorkshire Police, said after the hearing:

“This was a complex confiscation hearing, but the Financial Investigator worked tirelessly to recover money from Christie”.

“At the centre, are the victims who lost a lot of money because of the fraud. Christie now has three months to pay the money back or face an additional four years imprisonment in default.

Ms Senior was silent on the reduction in the alleged value of the crimes from nearly £50 million on the indictment, to £1.4 million upon conviction, and then to £482,000, before interest, via POCA. No questions were asked, of course, by the tame local and regional press, who reported on the proceedings before HHJ Durham Hall, as to how this reconciled with a ‘complex hearing’ and such glowing praise for the ‘tireless’ financial investigator, Nigel Crowther.

Or, how it impacted on the sentencing of Ralph Christie, receiving a seven year prison sentence instead of a considerably lesser sentence, that may well have resulted in not spending time in prison.

There was no mention, either, of the lengths to which WYP would go in order to frustrate Christie in his attempt to raise money in order to discharge the POCA obligation. Or, explain the final destination of funds that were in accounts frozen, or sequestered, in 2011, following their actions taken in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service’s David Levy and the Greek authorities. Other financial restrictions over Christie’s business and personal affairs had been in force since 2009.

Christie had represented himself at the final POCA hearing, after his lawyers withdrew at a late stage in proceedings, whereas the Crown had instructed an experienced QC, Paul Reid, also involved in the diminishing claims debacle from the outset, whilst, it is right to observe, making a small fortune for himself along the way.

Operation Laggan, the bungled, meandering, six-year police investigation into Ralph Christie and his Greek property dealing, has cost the West Yorkshire taxpayer well over £1 million; far more than will ever be recovered via POCA. If Christie is able to clear his name over the five counts upon which he was convicted, and there seems a reasonable chance he may do so, then WYP face a multi-million pound (or euros) payout in compensation to him and his investors. Probably, the largest ever. Which would mirror Laggan as the most spectacularly failed fraud investigation in the history of the entire police service in the UK. Yet, not one officer involved within it, including those who either acted upon or told blatant lies, or were party to them, or appeared to look the other way when confronted with them, faced any disciplinary sanction; most have retired, one has ‘failed upwards’ and is, presently, a serving chief constable with another police force.

Cedric Christie, Ralph’s younger brother was a predecessor of Ramona Senior, as WYP’s Head of Economic Crime, during his 30 years of service with the force he had joined as a cadet in 1981. One of a number of remarkable coincidences and connections that form a labyrinthine thread through this article.

He retired in 2011, with an exemplary record certificate, and became a vigorous, high-profile campaigner for justice for his brother, both in the local and regional press and on network television; grounding a campaign for election as West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner in 2012 on that very case, as part of a wider, and well justified, attack on police corruption in his home county. Arguably, the most persistently dishonest police force in the country.

On that solus anti-corruption platform, he was very nearly elected by the voting public of West Yorkshire. Taking the hot favourite, the Labour Party-backed Mark Burns-Williamson, to a re-count. The author of this piece, Neil Wilby, was Cedric’s campaign manager.

Burns-Williamson was, previously, the Chairman of West Yorkshire Police Authority for nine years and through a period of some of the most grotesque failings of the police force in its history. Operation Douglas is one spectacular example where Supreme Court judges described the worst police corruption they had ever seen (read more here).

The perennially failed PCC, a former gritter lorry driver, provided no assistance, whatsoever, in holding the chief constable to account over the force’s failings, both in the Operation Laggan investigation and matters closely connected to it. Thankfully, he has now retired which allows Ralph Christie to invite a fresh pair of eyes in the form of the Mayor of West Yorkshire, the former Batley and Spen MP, Tracy Brabin, to take a fresh look at the case.

Just over a year after the 2012 PCC elections, Cedric had, most surprisingly, turned turtle and was, it appears, plotting with his former colleagues to convict his own brother, who had been on bail since 2009, with the police case against him, originally comprising of only three charges, now seemingly floundering. It is his elder brother’s strong contention, and with increasing evidence to support that hypothesis, that Cedric’s flawed investigation in Crete in 2014, believed to be in conjunction with, or at the coercion of, his former West Yorkshire Police colleagues, led to a further sixteen counts being added to the indictment at Bradford Crown Court, only two of which succeeded. Both being central to the present innocence claim. Cedric refuses to disclose his investigation report, or details of his communications with the police, that would be central to that claim succeeding.

It has transpired over the past two years, following a brotherly re-union in Malta in January, 2020, that, according to Cedric, West Yorkshire Police detectives have never been to Crete to pursue the investigation against Ralph. That appears to be strongly borne out by conversations with property and land owners who were party to some of the transactions that led to the Bradford trial. Not a single one has ever seen or been contacted by a WYP officer. It also adds weight to the proposition that Cedric was working closely with the Operation Laggan team, or he would not, presumably, be privy to such information.

The proposition that Cedric was visiting the island at the behest of WYP is one that he continues to deny but, conversely and perversely, he is unable, or unwilling, to provide any sensible counter-argument. It is clear, and well evidenced, however, that Cedric made visits to Crete in September/October, 2013 shortly before the Greek trial at which Ralph was cleared; then in January, and again in April, 2014. On the latter visit, he was accompanied by Declan Christie, Ralph’s eldest son, who was acting as interpreter and local guide, being fluent in the Greek language.

Cedric was the only family member, and amongst a large group of friends, who was not jubilant at the conclusion of the Greek trial in October, 2013. Ralph Christie was acquitted before a panel of the three top judges within the jurisdiction. A certified translation of the court’s judgment can be read here. The allegations made there were much the same as WYP later relied upon at Bradford. Two of the three prosecution witnesses did not turn up to the Crete trial, Stephen Thomas and Susan Watt. Thomas did not appear at Bradford as either co-defendant (it was proved beyond doubt at the Crete trial that he was a business partner of Ralph Christie) or witness for the prosecution. Despite having been the original and main complainant in the case for a number of years.

The following month, May 2014, Cedric texted his brother to say that he was ‘going to go to the police and put you in front of a judge’. At about the same time, he also issued civil proceedings against Ralph, knowing that, as he had been by this time arrested whilst on a visit to the UK, he would not be in a position to defend that claim, amounting to £129,743.

The additional criminal charges were made against Ralph in September, 2014. It is known that Cedric had already been in meetings with the police twice during April, 2014, a fact he did not disclose when sending his message to Ralph the following month.

During this same time period, Cedric was also meeting regularly with another high profile miscarriage of justice proponent, Leeds property developer, John Elam. His case had been raised in an adjournment debate in Parliament at the end of January, 2014 by Gerry Sutcliffe, MP (read more here). Cedric met with Messrs. Elam and Sutcliffe (and Neil Wilby) shortly afterwards, ostensibly to assist that campaign.

However, Cedric was covertly recording Elam and, it is claimed, reporting back to two senior police officers, C/Supt Andy Brennan and DCI Simon Bottomley (now chief superintendent and Head of WYP PSD). Cedric also lied about his own involvement in two covert operations into Elam, codenamed Operation Primary and Operation Teddington. Unaware that formal documents had been unearthed by Neil Wilby with Cedric’s spidery, but distinct, signature on them.

In another remarkable coincidence, towards the end of his prison sentence at HMP Hatfield Lakes, Ralph Christie came into close contact with Andrew John Rudd, whose covertly recorded evidence played a significant part in the conviction of John Elam. Rudd, for reasons that are still unexplained, was allowed to live the high life in Marbella, driving a distinctive Bentley motor car and residing in a £2 million villa for a number of years, by West Yorkshire Police, despite an arrest warrant being in place, and the force, bizarrely, claiming they couldn’t locate him, for almost 8 years. A task that took an Andalusian private investigator less than a day, complete with photographs of Rudd, his car, and his luxury home.

Cedric Christie also lied to senior detectives, and at least one chief constable, about his involvement with the well-known police whistleblower website, unProfessional Standards Department (uPSD). This followed Operation Vertex, an investigation into ACC Ingrid Lee, following her catastrophic ‘whitewash’ of the force’s involvement with Jimmy Savile, in which Cedric was named as one of the two complainants against Lee. Neil Wilby was the other. Collectively, and individually, the decision letter, investigation outcome and report, all compiled by Nick Gargan, the chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police at the time, was highly critical of WYP (read more here).

Cedric was, in fact, a significant contributor to uPSD at the time of its formation – and it is a matter of record that the Twitter account @uPSDWYP was opened in 2012 with the main intention of supporting the PCC election campaign and supporting police whistleblowers such as him. It has never emerged why he went to such extraordinary lengths to conceal that involvement.

Ingrid Lee was Cedric’s boss, and nemesis, during the latter stages of his police career, removing him from his senior post in the Economic Crime Unit and allocating him a ‘non-job’, stripped of detective status, in the Safer Leeds community liaison team. It was a spectacular fall from grace. One that made him ill – and he retired from the force in 2011 having spent a considerable part of the last two years of his service on extended sick leave, whilst pursuing grievances against Lee and other senior officers.

This career change followed the discovery by the police of an investment of £100,000, by Cedric, into Ralph’s property business in 2008. He made a profit of over £7,000 in around 3 months on that investment. Cedric denied any impropriety concerning the fortuitous arrangement and, although interviewed at Wetherby Police Station, by a senior PSD officer, DCI Frances Naughton (now a superintendent with the North Yorkshire force), he was not formally disciplined or charged over it.

Cedric Christie then tried to divert attention from his own troubles by publicly claiming that Neil Wilby was ‘a police informant’ and, it seems, encouraging at least one other individual, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to do the same. That person is a rape victim, the perpetrator having admitted the crime in police interview, but not prosecuted, and another with well grounded, bitterly-fought, long-running miscarriage of justice issues with both West Yorkshire Police and their neighbours, and junior partners, North Yorkshire Police, in a grotesque and long-running ‘cover-up’.

The conflict between the Cretan property developing partners, Ralph Christie and Stephen Thomas, led to a civil claim being lodged in the Greek courts in 2009 that, because of the matters in issue, the judiciary seized of the matter later ruled should be investigated and then determined at a criminal trial. An option available within the court system in Greece. Their first venture together was, in fact, the eight properties at Almyridia referred to in the opening paragraphs of this article. To this day, Stephen Thomas, introduced to Ralph in 2006 by his brother Simon, still owns his four properties that formed the crux of that deal. The other four are still in Ralph’s name, but subject to a Greek court order preventing their sale or transfer.

The police investigation had, by then, rumbled on and an International Letter of Request sent to the Greek authorities in the name of the Head of Advocacy at the Crown Prosecution Service’s Central Fraud Unit in London, David Levy, petitioning the extradition of Ralph Christie, was sent in February 2011. As reported previously, it was drafted by a WYP detective constable, the now retired Charles Skidmore, and, apparently, signed ‘blind’ by Mr Levy. Further enquiries with the CPS have revealed that the letter emanated from their office in York, not London, adding to the doubts about its provenance.

No copy of a wet-signed or sealed copy of the Letter of Request has ever been provided to the Christie defence teams either in the UK or in Greece. Enquiries are continuing, as they say, but involve the confidential assistance of a key player in that saga that cannot, as yet, be publicly revealed.

The Letter of Request contained a surprising number of significant falsehoods and lacked any apparent evidential foundation. Much the most harmful being that the Christie property empire had no land, property or cash assets. Absent of which, it is very arguable that the extradition would not have been sanctioned.

It was also this same Levy letter, taken at its face, that had persuaded the Greek judges to deal with the Thomas civil claim as a criminal matter. Which was, of course, the intention of the police and CPS in West Yorkshire. Ralph Christie faced a prison sentence of 20 years if found guilty in Chania. The regime in Greece being much more harsh on offenders, both in court and in their prisons. It would have saved the police and prosecutors in the UK a very expensive prosecution in the UK – and, as it turns out, almost complete humiliation over Operation Laggan.

Over the years, it has emerged that the standard of evidence gathering by both DC Skidmore and the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO), Detective Inspector Stephen Taylor, fell well below the required standard. They relied heavily on the various, and evolving, statements of Stephen Thomas and another former business associate, Susan Watt. The latter had been recruited to join the burgeoning Christie-Thomas empire from a collateral role as editor of the local newspaper, the Crete Courier.

The allegations made there were much the same as WYP relied upon at Bradford. Two of the three prosecution witnesses did not turn up to the Crete trial in 2013, the same Stephen Thomas and Susan Watt. Thomas did not appear at Bradford as either co-defendant (it was proved at the Crete trial that he was a business partner of Ralph Christie, which ran contrary to Thomas’s evidence) or witness for the prosecution. Despite having been the original and main complainant in the case for a number of years.

Mrs Watt did give evidence and her version of matters relating to eight of the counts on the indictment and large sums of money laundering, in the region of €12 million, was not believed by the jury. She also admitted in the witness box to lying in her dealings with and about Ralph Christie.

A more complete background to those two trials can be found here.

Over the past twelve months, the pace of the Ralph Christie innocence bid has quickened. He has a trainee lawyer, based in Copenhagen, Edward Marotis, working hard on formulating the grounds for a permission appeal to the Court of Appeal Criminal Division, at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. It is hoped that sufficient funds can be raised to engage a leading criminal appeals specialist in London.

Ralph Christie celebrated his 61st birthday earlier this month, his birth year coinciding with the release of an iconic song, by a leading popular music group in that era, The Hollies, ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother‘.

These are the opening stanzas:

The road is long, with many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
But I’m strong, strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

So on we go, his welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear, we’ll get there
For I know, he would not encumber me
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

Edward’s recent efforts have been mainly focused on the role of brother Cedric and his heavyweight role in the lengthy, circuitous Operation Laggan, together with his own post-retirement ‘freelance’ investigative enterprises. His report makes compelling reading:

As rehearsed earlier in this piece, but repeated here for completeness, Cedric had up until September 2008 served as Head of WYP’s ECU, alongside DI Taylor [who became the Senior Investigating Officer of Operation Laggan in July 2009 after Cedric had been removed from the ECU], as the two officers conducted investigations into the financial dealings of local organised criminals together. In a 2013 email, Cedric claims that the criminals whom he and DI Taylor were investigating, had attempted to discredit him personally, in order to disrupt the investigations, after a solicitor who had assisted the criminals, was arrested by Cedric during Operation Fern.

It was the Op Fern/Cedric Christie connection that led either directly, or indirectly, to the withdrawal of Ralph’s lawyers before the POCA hearing in 2018. Ryan Downes, the instructed solicitor, had contacted Cedric who mistakenly believed that Mr Downes was connected to the solicitor or firm involved in the 2008 arrest. There was no such connection and it turned out to be another red herring fished out by Cedric.

In 2008, Cedric had invested £100,000 in Crete, with/through Ralph whose business enterprises consisted almost entirely of such investments on behalf of (mainly) citizens of the UK. Cedric claims the criminals had gained knowledge of his relatively substantial investment, and thus sought to use it as a means of discrediting him. This, he says, resulted in DI Taylor being assigned the job of investigating Cedric for potential money-laundering; an investigation that was dropped in June 2011, when Cedric retired from the WYP, after having been on permanent sick-leave and half pay since April 2009.

The aforementioned email can be read below at Appendix 1:

Cedric remained an ardent supporter of Ralph until August 2013, where he changed his stance on Ralph, now, it seems, believing the possibility that Ralph had defrauded his investors, after all. Cedric’s girlfriend at the time reported in March 2021, in an email to Ralph, that Cedric had expressed such sentiment in 2013.

Her email can be read at Appendix 2:

Furthermore, Cedric visited the UK home of Ralph and his wife at the time, Jane, in Ripon, North Yorkshire, demanding to see certain documents, including bank statements belonging to both Ralph and Jane, along with Jane’s personal bank statements. Ralph was being held on prison remand in Greece during this time, and Jane described the encounter as highly coercive and unpleasant. Both of Ralph’s eldest children, Declan and Lauren, witnessed this episode, and Lauren has not spoken with Cedric since.

There are several key points of interest in regards to Cedric’s change of stance in late 2013:

Firstly, West Yorkshire Police, together with the Crown Prosecution Service, had not managed to raise more than two counts against Ralph, and, on both these charges, Ralph would go on to be found ‘not guilty’ in his 2015 trial at Bradford Crown Court. Furthermore, the CPS had triggered a criminal investigation of Ralph in Greece in 2011, based on the aforementioned and highly suspicious Letter of Request, signed off by David Levy, which seems to have been rubber stamped without proper consideration due to its palpably false contents.

This Letter of Request contained information which was provided by Sue Watt, a former employee of Ralph and Mr. Stephen Thomas in the Greek company Bapon AE (read more here), thus adding significant weight to the proposition that the details she was providing was false. In some cases, deliberately so, it seems.

This is important for a further reason, which is the fact that it was her allegations against Ralph in 2009, first made to his business partner Stephen Thomas, that instigated the investigations into Ralph by WYP and, later, the CPS. Thus, the allegations of Mrs. Watt were fundamental to both the investigation in Greece, by the Economic Crime Department of Athens, and in the UK, by the police and the Crown, despite the fact that all her allegations appeared to have little or no sound evidential basis in fact, as proven by the fact that her evidence at the Greek trial was derogated, and Ralph duly acquitted, and that he was found not guilty on the counts at the UK trial based on her allegations. WYP’s dependency on Mrs Watt was, on any independent view, a monumental error of judgement.

As mentioned earlier, the Greek trial of Ralph and his wife at the time, Jane Snowball-Christie, was heard late 2013, at which they were both completely exonerated of the charges, further demonstrating that the allegations in the CPS Letter of Request were poorly founded in almost their entirety.

Thus, the WYP/CPS investigation into Ralph had mostly faltered, as the Greek case against him had failed entirely, which raises the crucial question as to why Cedric, in this same period of time, would take such a significant change of stance: Moving from supporting Ralph intensely, to now believing he was a criminal.

By early 2014, the investigation into Ralph had only managed to establish one count; upon which Ralph would be found not guilty in Bradford Crown Court in 2015. On January 9th, 2014, the CPS lead prosecutor in Operation Laggan, Andrew West, appeared to mislead, inadvertently or otherwise, the Honorary Recorder of Bradford (HHJ Roger Thomas QC), to ensure that Ralph was held on remand in the UK. The purpose of this remand appears, to Ralph’s support team at least, to have been to allow Cedric to conduct his investigation into Ralph in Crete, on behalf of the WYP and CPS, without Ralph becoming aware of this. In this same hearing, Mr West submitted to the court that Cedric Christie had ‘changed sides’ and that was potentially a fatal blow to Ralph’s defence but the source of the prosecutor’s belief is not made clear.

In the early part of the same year, Cedric conducted two satellite investigations of Ralph’s businesses in Crete, with various individuals accompanying him, including, amongst others a retired WYP officer, who Cedric had known for over 30 years, PC Andrew Watt (also well known by his police nickname of ‘Spot’). During the second of these investigations, Cedric sent an email to one of Ralph’s investors, Matthew Clark. The email correspondence is shown at Appendix 3:

Several points of importance emerge from this correspondence:

Firstly, Cedric states that he is in Crete, along with Ralph’s eldest son, Declan, in order to “(…) get to the bottom of some issues”, confirming that he was in fact conducting this investigation, further stating that both him and Declan were “fed up with this”, further demonstrating his changed attitude regarding Ralph’s case at the time

Secondly, he states that “we were relying on WYP [West Yorkshire Police] to investigate Ralph and others effectively. They began in 2009 and still haven’t got a clue what’s been going on”. Herewith, Cedric confirmed that the case of the WYP and CPS was indeed faltering, and were now, apparently, almost entirely relying on the investigations of Cedric in order to gather evidence to be used to prosecute his own brother, Ralph.

A short period after Cedric returned from this investigation in Crete, the prosecution of Ralph miraculously established eighteen additional counts against him, upon which Ralph would be found guilty of five of them at the Bradford trial in March 2015. It thus appears to be a compelling inference that it was Cedric’s (and Declan’s) investigation that revived the case against Ralph, by giving the prosecution a foundation for raising the number of counts from one to nineteen.

The reports by Cedric, or correspondence with WYP, or meeting notes or briefing notes flowing from his investigations, was not disclosed to Ralph before, or during, the Bradford trial, in clear violation of the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act, 1995.

Furthermore, the fact that Ralph was found not guilty on fourteen of the nineteen counts, makes a strong argument that the information provided by Cedric was either flawed at best, or palpably false, and based on assumptions and/or hearsay, rather than evidence. Of the five counts on which Ralph was found guilty, three were based on information provided by Cedric (which was also not disclosed), while the remaining two have little connection with Cedric, yet have, instead, been raised in conjunction with the wave of counts raised based on Cedric’s investigation. Either way, the five counts on which was found guilty are very arguably unsafe convictions, as demonstrated elsewhere (read more here).

The information provided by Cedric to the police and prosecutors was not only highly questionable, it was also provided by, or gathered alongside, individuals all of whom had, seemingly, an interest in seeing Ralph convicted. These individuals included:

Declan Christie (Ralph’s son), who accompanied Cedric during his second investigation in April 2014, had himself, along with Cedric’s own son, Cameron Christie, been reported to North Yorkshire Police for alleged credit card fraud, based on the account of Yarl Christie (son of Ralph’s eldest brother, Lance), who had originally conducted business with Declan, along with allegations of several customers of the business. Yarl, furthermore, accused Declan and Cameron of theft of his own property and floor-covering stock. Although a crime number was issued, there is no known outcome to those allegations, or whether, indeed, the police investigated them. Any wrongdoing was denied by both Declan and Cameron Christie.

Declan had extensive knowledge of Ralph’s businesses in Crete and the Greek language, gained through working with Ralph for over two years, and would, one might very fairly infer, have had significant influence over Cedric’s information flow and the subsequent conclusion of his investigation.

The excerpt at Appendix 4 of email-correspondence, suggests that Yarl appeared to have strong evidence for his allegations.

In February 2011, Ralph had encouraged Declan to return to the UK and start a flooring business, which Ralph funded through a £25,000 loan from another of his brothers, Garth. This business was intended to serve as a financial backup-plan for Ralph and his wife at the time, and Declan was charged with running the business back in Bradford. The business grew quickly, yet also encountered the problem of Ralph’s reputation being destroyed by extensive investigation and potential prosecution. Thus, the hypothesis developed by Ralph, that Declan had an incentive to secure his father’s conviction, as it would remove him and his wife at the time, Jane Snowball-Christie, from the business, and, furthermore, enable him to take complete control of it (along with the significant amount of money held in the company’s accounts, that had grown to over £2 million in value by early 2014). Which was exactly what happened upon Ralph’s conviction.

Jason Stamos (Greek cousin of Ralph and Cedric), who accompanied Cedric for either one or both of his investigations, had been made responsible for transferring ownership of a plot of land into the ownership of an investor who had lost her investment due to the actions of the WYP and CPS (Kathryn Evans). Stamos chose, instead, to sell the land to an Austrian couple in August, 2013, and kept the profit himself (€100.000); at best a breach of trust but, apparently, an unlawful act under the Greek property regime which, some say, gave him a motive for supporting Ralph’s conviction, as it would remove the focus of law enforcement from his own actions.

Nikos Nikolidakis (Ralph’s former Greek lawyer), instigated much of Cedric’s investigation, by apparently falsifying evidence and providing it to Cedric. For example, Nikolidakis falsely told him that no money was invested into a certain plot of land (known as “Zakros”) in May 2013, despite money definitely being invested there (€302.000). Nikolidakis had extensive knowledge of the investments, and was able to heavily influence Cedric’s conclusions to the investigations.

The money could only have been removed by Nikolidakis with the assistance of Stephen Thomas (as before stated, Ralph’s former business partner), and considering that Nikolidakis was understood to be potentially facing prosecution himself for several actions similar to this, he had a strong incentive to have Ralph convicted, so as to remove focus from himself.

At this point, it is worth noting the fact that Ralph was not found guilty on any count relating to ‘Zakros’ and that Cedric himself stated in an email to an investor that: “Nikos [Nikolidakis] is also criminally compromised by me so don’t trust all he tells you.”. Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that Mr. Andrew West of the CPS (prosecution) read the testimony from Nikolidakis during Ralphs trial in 2015, without consideration of Nikolidakis’ own implication in the case.

It is also noteworthy that Nikolidakis threatened Jason Stamos, on several occasions between April and July 2013, that there would be serious implications for him if he testified for Ralph’s defence, at the Greek trial in October 2013.

But, perhaps, most compelling of all in respect of Nikos Nikolidakis is that in March 2013, Tayab Ali, a senior partner in leading London law firm, ITN Solicitors, and Stephen Grattage of counsel were funded by the Legal Aid Agency to visit Crete. Part of the conclusions they drew clearly showed that their Greek lawyer counterpart was, generously put, less than trustworthy. A damning indictment from a profession too often concerned with ‘protecting its own’.

● Cedric has, on two separate occasions, admitted to providing the information he had gathered to DCI Simon Bottomley and DC/Supt Andy Brennan. The first time Cedric admitted this, was in June of 2014 to the author of this article, Neil Wilby, and the second time was directly to Ralph in February 2020.

Furthermore, Cedric informed another WYP complainant, whom he was assisting with her concerns over WYP PSD ‘investigations’, in March 2014 that he was working with Ramona Senior (the then Head of the ECU of the WYP) as he once had, as departmental colleagues, many years earlier. Cedric also confirmed this to Neil Wilby in June 2014.

In October 2014, that same complainant delivered important evidence to Ms. Senior, and she was assured that this would be disclosed to Ralph’s defence; yet this never happened, despite the evidence being of significance.

Despite these revelations, DCI Bottomley claimed in an email to the complainant in 2014, that he he has “never had sight of any documents relating to the Ralph Christie case and neither have I discussed the case with DI Taylor”.

Thus, it appears that the WYP were denying Cedric’s involvement, despite him admitting to having conducted the investigation on their behalf; a denial by the police force that is upheld to this day.

● In December 2014, Andrew West of the CPS appears to deny having awareness of several pieces of evidence, which would favour Ralph’s case, despite these having been provided to him by Cedric or the aforementioned complainant. What this demonstrates, is that the WYP and the CPS were, apparently, willing to dismiss evidence which countered their sustained and frantic attempt at convicting Ralph, rather than constantly review and adjust their investigation as they, rightly, should have done by law.

● Ralph’s defence team (the aforementioned ITN Solicitors in London) requested the disclosure of the reporting directly from Cedric, along with bank statements and other materials he had obtained by coercion, yet Cedric refused, and threatened Ralph with having him remanded based on allegations of harassment. Cedric finally disclosed some of the requested material in May 2020, which, if they had been disclosed at trial, may well have led to Ralph not being found guilty on three of the five counts on which he was found guilty (counts 12, 14, 15).

● Ralph’s counsel at the Bradford trial, Christopher Tehrani QC and his junior, Stephen Grattage, surprisingly did not call either Cedric or Stephen Thomas to give evidence, despite their key roles in the case. Neither was called by the prosecution which, deliberately it might seem , removed the possibility of cross-examination by Mr Tehrani QC. Both lawyers also declined to introduce the CPS Letter of Request from 2011, despite the fact that it had led to the criminal trial in Greece, and is now almost entirely discredited.

Viewed in the round, the conviction of Ralph Christie, based on these troubling foundations, led to a seven-year sentence, over three of which were spent in a UK prison: a conviction that must be considered as a miscarriage of justice. Overlaid with the profoundly concerning fact that the WYP and CPS would facilitate Cedric’s investigations, by ensuring Ralph was kept on remand, and relying on his investigations despite his undeclared personal involvement.

The reason for why Cedric would change his stance is still unclear, even to this day. One can imagine the psychological toll that a case like this inflicts, even on those not accused, yet a far more disturbing prospect seems likely.

Cedric had spoken out against his former police force (WYP), making serious allegations, which further challenged the fundamental credibility of the institution. Considering the apparent desperation of the WYP in 2013, as their case against Ralph was faltering, one can readily imagine them applying pressure upon Cedric to change his stance, by the use of threats of various potential sanctions, such as loss of retirement benefits or even being prosecuted himself. This remains speculation, yet it is, nonetheless, what appears to be the most likely cause of his change of stance. This becomes further plausible when one considers that the people who accompanied Cedric on his investigation had their own motives for seeing Ralph convicted, and, potentially, immense influence over his conclusions/findings, as they spoke Greek and knew Ralph’s business (Declan, Stamos, Nikolidakis).

Ralph has communicated with Cedric on several occasions since being released from prison, and, after their ‘re-union’ in January 2020in Malta, Cedric sent an apology to Ralph for his “repeated mistakes” four months later. Stating further that “I will have an opportunity to apologise to family friends I have let down soon”. This message was sent to Ralph two days before Cedric disclosed much of the evidence Ralph had requested from him before the trial in 2015.

Furthermore, as late as April 2022, Cedric apologised again to Ralph and Jane for his former actions, as can be seen in the text message below:

Message from Cedric to Ralph, 16:01, 03/04/2022
“I am genuinely sorry for anything untoward I have stated about you and Jane because I am satisfied that you both had my best interests at heart throughout. I apologise for letting the good name of the family in respect of my own failings, both in my personal and working life. That includes telling falsehoods in court I believed were genuine cases. So if we can try and amicably sort out the situation in a calm way then I am willing to do so? Love Cedric x”

It is unclear what Cedric’s renewed involvement could lead to, yet what is most important to understand is the fact that the WYP and CPS facilitated Ralph’s conviction based on Cedric’s investigation, despite him being personally involved and, furthermore, being influenced in regards to his findings, by individuals with their own motives for assisting the conviction of Ralph.

Nikolidakis and Declan would have known that the conclusions Cedric was drawing were false, yet enabled it anyway. Meaning that their role in this miscarriage of justice is at the same scale as that of Simon Bottomley, Ramona Senior, Stephen Taylor, amongst other senior WYP officers. The role of Andrew West of CPS North also requires critical and independent examination, along with the individuals making the false allegations, led by Sue Watt. Thus, it is ultimately unclear to what degree the blame falls on Cedric as he was seemingly misled and used to secure the unlawful conviction of Ralph, but it does seem an easy conclusion to draw that this Cedric ‘investigation’ was a last-ditch effort of the CPS and WYP to secure a conviction by any means; even if it meant coercing and manipulating Cedric to turn against Ralph and bamboozling his defence team.

Regarding the latter point, Ms. Murehaan Shahban of ITN Solicitors London, who was originally supposed to support Ralph during the entirety of the trial, sent an email to Ralph two days before the start of the trial, stating both that she was happy with how the defence of the case was going, and furthermore stating that Cedric’s personal investigations in Crete were causing “complications of sorts behind the scenes”. Although Ms. Shahban was supposed to be present during the trial, Mr. Grattage and Mr. Tehrani QC claimed that her presence was not necessary, and thus she was not present, despite the fact that she had just returned from a four-day fact-finding mission in Greece, funded by Ralph’s legal aid. Her report included details of his exoneration at the Greek trial of 2013, along with a key statement from Dr. Themis Sofos who was Ralph’s defence lawyer during the Greek trial.

In an article published elsewhere on this website in 2021, headlined ‘Licence to Kill’, (read more here), Cedric Christie was given specific right of reply.

“This article was published before the expiration of the period you gave me to reply. However that does not particularly concern me.

“I do not consider that I have lied in either of the circumstances you have described.

“There are also some points you make in the above article about Ralph’s case that imply that I’ve been mischievous in his regard. I do not agree. I have information and documents that I believe would support my view. It is my personal opinion that the WYP investigation into his Cretan financial affairs was inadequate.

“Perhaps some communication may resolve the above aspects”.

The further communication is keenly awaited, particularly in respect of the, as yet, unanswered matters relating to his private investigations in Crete and his view that his brother should be back in prison.

Page last updated: Friday 27th May, 2022 at 1945 hours

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Picture credit: Ralph Chistie

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© Neil Wilby 2015-2022. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby Media, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Published by Neil Wilby

Former Johnston Press area managing director. Justice campaigner. Freelance investigative journalist.

3 thoughts on “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

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