Britain’s ‘worst landlord’ who said he did not want ‘coloured tenant’ because they ‘smell like curry’ is banned from selling off his houses as he pleads poverty while facing £250,000 legal bill
- Richard Wilson, 72, was ordered to pay the legal fee after abusing local council
- He told the High Court ‘I have no money to pay’ despite once owning 300 homes
- The court stopped him from selling his homes to get out of footing the bill
- Investigators claim the Kent landlord has made £40 million from selling houses
The man dubbed Britain’s ‘worst landlord’ has been stopped from selling off his houses to get out of paying £250,000 legal costs.
Multi-millionaire Fergus Wilson, 72, once the biggest private landlord in the country, tried to sell properties and transfer the assets to his wife so he could plead poverty.
The property mogul, who is thought to have at one point owned around 300 homes, claimed he could not afford to pay his legal bill, a court heard.
Investigators claimed Mr Wilson and his wife, Judith, made more than £40million from the sale of 166 properties – with £35 million made in the last two years.
But a High Court injunction stopped him from disposing of the remaining assets, including five homes he owns in Ashford, Kent.
Last year Mr Wilson was banned for life from contacting Ashford Borough Council after a 10-year campaign of abuse against its staff and in May this year the High Court ordered him to make a part payment in costs of £125,000 while the full amount is considered by a judge and a final figure of £250,000 was reached.
Fergus Wilson, 72, has been stopped from selling off his properties to plead poverty to dodge a legal bill. He was slapped with the £250,000 bill after a 10-year campaign of abuse against Ashford Borough Council in Kent.
On June 13, the council secured the injunction in the High Court against Wilson, stopping him from offloading more of his assets and transferring them to his wife.
After losing a High Court battle, he was slapped with a permanent injunction last year, preventing him from contacting Ashford Council.
The buy-to-let landlord from Maidstone, Kent, repeatedly told councillors to kill themselves, and sent huge numbers of unsolicited letters and emails.
The council then took further legal action because Mr Wilson defaulted on three court judgements relating to the payment of legal costs.
But the multi-millionaire claimed he had no money and was unable to pay.
Mr Wilson began rapidly disposing of their assets and the council believed there was a risk that the costs orders of the court would go unsatisfied, and that future orders would be frustrated if a freezing injunction was not made.
Investigators allege Wilson and his wife Judith (pictured) made £35 million in the last two years. Wilson claimed the properties are owned by his wife and said he has ‘never been a landlord’.
In its application to the court, the council said that while Mr Wilson portrays himself in the press as one of the wealthiest men in Britain, owning a large portfolio of rental properties, to the council and the court he claims he is a pensioner with little or no wealth, income or assets.
He claims all the properties and assets are owned by his wife.
During previous court proceedings, Mr Wilson has made repeated references to selling properties and investigations by the council shows that the couple have generated gross sale proceeds of £40.4 million from the sale of 166 properties in recent years, with over £35 million of that in the past two years.
The council was concerned Mr Wilson was planning to avoid paying court costs and was making himself immune from enforcement action by selling all his properties and transferring all his assets out of his own name.
As a result, the council has identified five properties in Ashford registered in his name and the Freezing Order prevents him from disposing of them.
The High Court heard that, when faced with possible enforcement action, Mr Wilson obtained a debt moratorium by appearing to give false information to ‘judgement proof’ himself.
In exchanges with Mr Wilson, the judge asked him about a statement he made in a letter to the council where he said: ‘I take more annually in salary and capital gain than the entire salary bill of Ashford Borough Council.’
David Lock QC, sitting as a deputy judge of the High Court, asked: ‘When you made the statement, was it true?’
Mr Wilson, who chose to represent himself, said: ‘No, it was not true.’
Addressing court costs he had previously been ordered to pay the council but defaulted on, Mr Wilson told the court: ‘I do not have it… I have no money to pay.’
While properties were found to be in his name, Mr Wilson indicated he had not known about them and they had been fraudulently put in his name when in fact they belong to his wife.
Mr Wilson told the court: ‘I should explain the investor is my wife, Judith Wilson, and not myself. I actually own no property and have never been a landlord.’
Judge Lock told Mr Wilson: ‘I think that there is a very high chance that you are pretending to the court that you have no assets.’
The council successfully applied for the freezing order to be made permanent.
Mr Wilson was ordered not to remove from England and Wales any of his assets up to the value of £250,000, or in any way dispose of, deal with or diminish the value of any of his assets up to the same value.
In addition, Judge Lock ordered Mr Wilson to set out all his assets in England and Wales in the next two weeks, whether solely or jointly owned.
Mr Wilson was told the order would cease to have effect if he paid £250,000 to the council within 14 days.
The court also approved interim charging orders on two of his properties.
Mr Wilson has been banned from contacting Ashford Borough Council for life after aggressively abusing staff there, including telling councilors to kill themselves. He has previously been accused of racism over evicting tenants, which he denies.
Mr Wilson has also been ordered to pay for the freezing injunction application which costs £20,000 and must be paid by 4pm on June 27.
Once Judge Lock handed down the judgment, Mr Wilson said his wife Judith Wilson will pay £250,000 to the council.
The authority was not seeking damages but wants to end the campaign of harassment it has described as ‘ relentless’.
During the 10-year campaign of abuse, some workers received daily messages leading to some feeling bullied and distressed, being unable to respond to allegations and breaking down in tears.
Included in the council’s hundreds of pages of evidence was a letter, sent to the local authority’s leader Gerry Clarkson’s home address, calling him a ‘buffoon’, ‘an a******’, ‘a bag of ****’ and said he should ‘do all the young people in Ashford a service and commit suicide’.
Mr Wilson also referred to a female member of staff as an ‘objectionable lady’ and ‘Michelin lady’ in an email where he called for her to be sacked.
Five years ago the hated landlord gained infamy for banning tenants he described as ‘coloured’ because he said they ‘smell like curry’.
In 2017 this ban was overturned in a court victory for the Equality and Human Rights Commission.