I out-stung a sting by a national newspaper, and this is how I and the GB News Investigates team did it, by Philip Davies

I out-stung a sting by a national newspaper, and this is how I and the GB News Investigates team did it, by Philip Davies

Charlie Peters details the sting operation

GB News
Philip Davies

By Philip Davies

Published: 06/04/2023

- 19:58

On Tuesday 21st March I received an email from 'William Kent' at 'Tahr Partners'

On Tuesday 21st March I received an email from "William Kent" at "Tahr Partners" telling me that they were a British-Indian company with £340m of assets under management and were looking to expand their investments in the UK in a variety of sectors, in particular the gambling industry.

As such they were looking for someone who could help guide them through the commercial and regulatory landscape and that I had been identified as the ideal person for the role.

They offered to pay me for a "day or two" of work per month with the possibility of a place on their board, and asked to meet me if I was interested in this opportunity.

I replied to them to make three things clear:

  1. MPs are not allowed to lobby on behalf of anyone paying them
  2. MPs are not allowed to be paid for Parliamentary advice
  3. I was not interested in a job with them
A Times reporter claiming to be a businessman speaks to Philip Davies

Philip Davies has praised the stingers' attempts to ensnare him

GB News

However, I did say that I was happy to meet with them but given the above they might conclude there was no point in doing so.

I was therefore surprised to receive a response to say that they would still like to meet up anyway.

Looking again at their original email, I was convinced this was a fake company and had all the hallmarks of a "Fake Sheikh" style sting.

For starters, why would an Indian billionaire be interested in me?

Why did they need anyone to advise them on regulation in the gambling industry when they were investing a relatively modest sum in companies who already had people ensuring they are compliant with regulation?

Ordinarily I would simply have ignored the email saying they still wanted to meet, but this seemed too good a journalistic opportunity to pass up.

Wouldn't it be interesting to see how they behave in one of these sting operations and hear what they say?

I therefore decided to take up their offer of a meeting and contacted GB News' excellent Investigations journalist Charlie Peters, giving the background, and explaining I was planning to meet them.

Charlie soon discovered that nobody knew Tahr Partners at the Mayfair address they gave out, and the number that had been set up to take their calls had been hastily set up only recently.

We therefore decided to turn the tables on the stingers.

Whilst it was obvious the people behind the "Tahr Partners" company would be filming me during our meeting, we decided to play them at their own game.

So, before the meeting, I met with Charlie and technical experts outside the hotel at which we had arranged to meet - a short walk from Parliament - who fitted me with a tie with a secret camera, and a hidden microphone - I also decided to use my phone to record the conversation as a back-up.

Philip Davies is greeted aa the sting operation got underway

Philip Davies says he was 'slightly anxious' as he entered the hotel

GB News

It felt as if we were about to film an episode of Spooks!

Entering the hotel, I had mixed emotions.

On the one hand I was excited to see the sting in operation, but I was also slightly anxious not to say anything which taken in isolation could have looked as if I was interested in accepting payment from them which was far from the truth.

I was met in the reception of the hotel by "Alamu" who was supposedly related to the Indian investor, and taken upstairs to meet her colleague William in a quiet corner.

I sent a text to Charlie to tell them where they were taking me so he could follow at a safe distance.

I had a number of questions I wanted to ask them to try to catch out their scam - who was the Indian family they were investing on behalf of? Why did they need an advisor on regulation? Why a politician? Had they approached other people?

Every question I asked they answered without missing a beat and without diverting their gaze.

These people were good.

They were very well prepared for any question that might come their way, but at the same time they also managed to convey a sense of naivety which played well with their background story of needing advice, and they were both extremely nice.

In fact, they were so good that - even though I was certain this was a fake company when I arrived - I was beginning to think that I may have been mistaken.

I sneaked off a text message to Charlie which read "They seem very nice people - I am not sure if they are scammers or not to be honest. If they are they are very good!"

It seemed Charlie agreed, and we had to consider if this was in fact a genuine approach and they were merely seeking to corrupt UK politics in a manner they were claiming operated in India.

After the meeting Charlie and I had a discussion and we remained unsure as to whether they were a fake company or whether they were real but corrupt.

Both seemed entirely possible.

As we now know they were a fake company after all - our first instincts were right after all.

But they were very very good, and I praise the two Times journalists for perfecting the part they played during the meeting.

Do I approve of the methods they used? On balance yes, but I have mixed feelings.

A key part of journalism is to hold those in authority to account and expose wrongdoing.

However, that would normally be targeting people who were known to be wrong'uns, but evidence was required to prove it.

In contrast this seemed more like an attempt to target people where there was nothing to suggest they were behaving badly, but to nevertheless try to tempt them to do something wrong in a honey trap kind of way.

However, I am sure most people will think it is a good and fair way to hold politicians to account.

The next people who organise such a sting will do well to be as good as these Times journalists.

If I am targeted again, you can be sure that Charlie Peters and the GB News investigative team will again be by my side to bring you the inside track on how it works.

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