Revealed: corporate sleuths initiated police investigation to protect client’s reputation
“We can avoid being seen to have any role in prosecuting Puddick” – Benedict Hamilton, of Kroll, writing in an e-mail to colleagues
Corporate investigators Kroll instigated a doomed £1 million police investigation to protect the reputation of an insurance company, confidential e-mails show.
Exaro has obtained a series of e-mails from within the highly secretive corporate-investigations giant that detail how it enlisted the help of police in the UK as part an operation code-named ‘Project Marten’, to protect Guy Carpenter, the global reinsurance company.
One e-mail reports on a key meeting between Kroll and senior police officers, saying: “The meeting went very well, and they have offered significant assistance.”
The investigation by the City of London Police led to criminal charges. But the case collapsed last year in what one MP suggested in Parliament was a “taxpayer-funded crusade”.
An Exaro investigation can today reveal Kroll’s ‘hidden hand’ behind the doomed police case.
It began after an affair between two married employees at Guy Carpenter. One, Tim Haynes, was a reinsurance broker and a director of the company at the time. The other was his secretary, Leena Puddick.
The secretary’s husband, Ian Puddick, found out and decided to embarrass Haynes by publicising the affair on the web.
The insurance company called in Kroll, which was a sister company at the time. They were owned by Marsh & McLennan Companies (MMC), but Kroll was sold in 2010.
After the meeting between Kroll and police, counter-terrorist police in August 2009 arrested Puddick for harassment, and raided his home and office.
But Haynes, who resigned six months later, told police that he did not want to pursue the case.
As a result, the prosecution against Puddick was dropped. Puddick, who runs a plumbing business, set up a website to publish more details of the affair and criticise the investigation by City police.
He was arrested again in what became a high-profile case. Puddick became the first person charged with using the internet to harass someone.
Haynes gave evidence in the case, but Puddick was cleared in June 2011 of two charges of harassment.
Puddick’s constituency MP, David Burrowes, raised the case in Parliament and suggested that it was a “taxpayer-funded crusade”. He said: “One could argue that if the complaint had been made to the City of London Police by an ordinary member of the public – say, a plumber, like my constituent – the estimated £1 million would not have been spent investigating and prosecuting the case.”
One e-mail obtained by Exaro shows that Kroll turned to City police to tackle Puddick after Sussex Police dismissed it as a “civil matter”.
Dan Mead, director of security at MMC, set up the key meeting with City police.
Benedict Hamilton, then London-based associate managing director of Kroll, told Mel Schwartz, counsel for MMC, in the e-mail: “As scheduled, we also met with the heads of the police specialist crime unit as arranged by Dan Mead.”
The police had “promised to deploy significant resources” to the investigation, he told colleagues.
Hamilton, who works on financial investigations for Kroll, wrote that they were considering “civil remedies that would threaten Puddick’s assets.”
“If the police take this on, we can avoid being seen to have any role in prosecuting Puddick, which also has advantages. One way to combine the two may be to talk to Puddick post arrest, and warn him of our options in the civil courts to prevent him reoffending.”
A former investigative journalist, Hamilton worked for Channel 4 and the BBC, and has since become the managing director of Kroll’s financial-investigations unit.
Mead told Exaro: “I did set up the meeting with the City of London Police. We had a problem, and we consulted them. A lot of the work was done by Kroll before the police got involved.”
He believed that Kroll was justified in seeking police help.
Puddick, who is suing the City of London Police, told Exaro: “My life turned into a nightmare. This is a disturbing example of big business using its financial clout to manipulate the system.”
A spokeswoman for City of London Police said: “The City of London Police investigation was conducted in line with national procedure. We respect the decision of the court.”
Kroll declined to comment.