Whenever we think about this whole Manston pantomime, we keep coming back to the oddness of a US real estate investment firm, specialising in blocks of flats and student accommodation, suddenly taking it into its head that what it wants to do most in the world is get hold of a failed UK airport and develop a cargo hub on the far side of the globe.
We’re also constantly amazed by the fact-free nature of the debate and by the way that common sense has gone out of the window.
Most of all, we’re amazed by the acceptance as a key player in all this of a man who is a serial failure when it comes to converting military airfields into successful commercial airports – Tony Freudmann. We’ve been sent a whole lot of interesting information about some of the players in this long-running saga. We’ve edited it down and thought we would share it with you.
See if you can join the dots between this lot. Any more information (facts, please, not lurid allegations) would be received with great interest.
The “saving” of Manston Airport – a mystery in many parts.
- Was a solicitor until he was struck off.
- Recently appointed as an MD at RiverOak and their only Director with any experience of running an airport
- Responsible for airport acquisition strategy at Wiggins. MD at Manston when its owner went into administration. All the airports acquired for Wiggins by Mr Freudmann were former military bases with “ample availability of surrounding land which can be developed using the real estate experience of Wiggins.” All the airports acquired by Mr Freudmann failed, either as a result of breach of contract, voluntary liquidation, non-payment of rent and/or heavy losses. One of these was Lahr Airport in Germany – more of that airport anon
- Having been “let go” by Wiggins, he bought up a number of travel companies. Under his ownership, they went to the wall. Also tried to establish a new route from Manston to Norfolk, Virginia. Secured public funding for the flights. Not one flight took off and the public investment was lost completely
- As a representative of Integeral, in June 2012 approaches the new owners of Lahr Airport with a business plan to make a commercial success of the airport focussing on freight, teardown, and being the base for a new West African airline (sound familiar?). A few months later, the wage bill for workers at Lahr ceases to be paid
- In 2013, introduced Ann Gloag to the opportunity to purchase Manston Airport and Prestwick Airport. He then tried to buy Manston Airport himself from Ms Gloag. In anticipation of getting hold of the land, Mr Freudmann asks Thanet District Council if they will approve planning permission on the Northern Grass for 1,000 houses.
- Established May 2008 by Sanjeev Joshi and Daryn Soards
- Daryn Soards becomes bankrupt and resigns from Integeral in January 2012
- A winding up petition comes before the High Court in February 2013. Mr Joshi is criticised. The Judge said that he did not have faith in either the truth or the accuracy of Mr Joshi’s statements. Evidence is also given to the Court that suggests that, in effect, Integeral was insolvent from late 2011. This means that Mr Freudmann would have been representing an insolvent company when he went to Lahr in 2012, whether he knew this or not http://www.11sb.com/pdf/re-integeral-ltd.pdf . In court, Mr Joshi says that Donald John Maggs has, at Integeral’s request, made a loan to third parties involved in the Lahr Airport project.
- Director at Integeral
- Introduced RiverOak to Ann Gloag and was present in a meeting between RiverOak and Sir Roger Gale. Tony Freudmann is reported in the news article below as saying about Mr Joshi and Mr Soards: “I am not aware of either of these people’s personal circumstances.” This is surprising given that he represented their company, Integeral, when he was working with Lahr Airport. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-27411419
Donald John Maggs
- Together with his business partner, the former MP, David Mellor, lost his case in the Court of Appeal in 2013 for fraudulent misrepresentation. He was criticised for “collaborating in a dishonest scheme to make a personal profit” http://www.wallace.co.uk/
- Mr Maggs was also behind Wharf Land’s successful application to build a waste disposal facility on the old Wisley Airfield. Plans are now afoot to build a number of houses on that old airfield. Wharf Land also bought Sandown Airport and was involved in a legal battle with local airfield users over the developer’s plans to close the airfield and turn it into a holiday camp
- Approached the new owners of the Manston site, via a third party, claiming to be working with RiverOak. http://www.parliament.uk/…/Carter%20and%20Musgrove%20writte… . RiverOak later confirm in a reply to a question by a local reporter that Mr Maggs had offered to try to introduce them to the new owners of the airport site. This suggests that RiverOak and Mr Maggs have some sort of connection – we don’t know what.
Sir Roger Gale
- Is asked in February 2015 whether any of Messrs Joshi, Soards and/or Maggs were in any way involved with RiverOak and that company’s attempts to gain ownership of the airport site. Despite the question being put to him twice, Sir Roger fails to answer.
- Established 19th June 2013 by Tony Freudmann with a registered address at the Mayfair address of Donald Maggs. The fact that Integeral (for whom Tony Freudmann was a representative and with which Douglas Maggs had a financial relationship) is insolvent becomes known publicly in summer 2013 and the contract which Integeral had had to run Lahr Airport is put out to tender again. Tony Freudmann bids for it via his new company, Annax. PwC is managing the tender process and decides that none of the bidders had produced a viable business plan. Mr Freudmann’s bid for Lahr is therefore unsuccessful. Interestingly, his suggested business plan was very similar to the one now on the table for the old airport at Manston.
- Tony Freudmann represented Integeral, a company that was owned by Messrs Joshi and (until January 2012) Soards, but he doesn’t really know anything about either man.
- Mr Joshi has been criticised for presenting untruthful evidence to Court.
- Integeral has links to Mr Maggs.
- Mr Freudmann’s Annax Aviation has links to Mr Maggs.
- Mr Maggs has been found guilty of fraudulent misrepresentation.
- Mr Freudmann works for RiverOak.
- There’s a link between Mr Maggs and RiverOak.
- Mr Maggs is a developer who has previously tried to develop old airfields for non-aviation uses.
- RiverOak buys, lets, and sometimes tries to build, student accommodation and flats.
- Mr Freudmann tested the water with the Council as to whether he could develop 1,000 houses on the Manston site.
- Sir Roger Gale won’t say whether Messrs, Joshi, Soards and Maggs have any ongoing involvement with RiverOak.
We know no more.
Still, it’s an interesting set of relationships, though, isn’t it?
Courtesy of Manston Pickle