INVESTIGATIONS into serious allegations concerning late Coventry council deputy leader Phil Townshend – first revealed by the Coventry Observer – remain ongoing, the police have confirmed.
As our investigation revealed last November, Coun Townshend died while being investigated by the police and the courts over allegations he defrauded an unwell and vulnerable 78-year-old woman; while his former law firm Townshends LLP in liquidation had still owed more than £300,000 to HM Revenue & Customs.
We revealed the allegations concerned him acquiring the elderly alleged victim’s home and assets when he had ‘power of attorney’ over her financial affairs – supposedly solely for use for her care and benefit.
We also revealed in April that confidential legal investigations continued, while restrictions prevented us from reporting more details.
Investigations remain ongoing with a view to recovering any assets or funds allegedly improperly removed from the alleged victim.
BBC Coventry & Warwickshire has today followed up our investigation. The Trish & Jo breakfast show noted the Coventry Observer first revealed the fraud allegations ahead of a civic funeral at Coventry Cathedral and that, while some had ‘sought to downplay’ the allegations, police had taken the matters seriously – obtaining mortgage papers, Coun Townshend’s bank statements, and had applied for a warrant to search premises including Coventry Council House.
Sources close to the alleged victim attacked the police investigation and asked why police had not interviewed Coun Townshend in the five months of their probe before his death.
The most recent Townshend LLP liquidation report, made publicly available on Companies House website this March, notes its investigations into the collapsed company remain ongoing, in addition to investigations relating to the vulnerable elderly woman.
The BBC referred to disclosures now available on the West Midlands Police’s website following a request for information relating to the police investigation under the Freedom of Information Act.
It states: “There are on-going cases in relation to Mr Townshend’s case. There are civil legal proceedings and
the Coroner has announced an inquest into his death (which is now concluded).
“Either of these proceedings could uncover information which may impact on the criminal investigation and cause it to re-open.
“We would not want to put information into the public domain that could impact any current investigations or hamper any future criminal proceedings.”
The police had previously publicly stated no police action would follow into the allegations of fraud, while clarifying reports that he had been ‘cleared of all wrongoing’ had been misleading.
As we first revealed, Land Registry documents show Coun Townshend had taken out a mortgage on the elderly alleged victim’s home, where she still lives, valued at £325,000. The allegations amounted to him acquiring assets worth a six-figure sum.
We reported last November a new court deputy had been appointed – before Coun Townshend’s death – to take charge of the alleged victim’s property and affairs.
Mr Townshend, aged 57, died alone in October last year at his Allesley village home in Coventry.
The coroner found he died from natural causes. Much of the coroner’s investigation examined Mr Townshend’s use of a cocktail of painkilling and antidepressant drugs.
His daughter Kirstie Logan has protested her father’s innocence, adding the allegations emerged from a private dispute.
Coun Townshend is set to receive a posthumous degree from Warwick University next month.