A man with companies registered in Liphook and claiming to be an ambassador-at-large for Gambia has been ordered to pay more than £80,000 in fines, court costs and compensation.
Vincent Bootes, 58, was found guilty at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Friday, November 26, of two offences of failing to provide information to The Pensions Regulator. While the court heard that whistleblowers claimed pension deductions had been taken from their salaries, the court was only dealing with the failure to provide information to the regulator.
Bootes was sentenced in his absence.
Bootes, who had previously entered a not guilty plea, said he could not attend as he was considered persona non grata in the UK.
The court heard he was now an ambassador-at-large for Gambia, and had revoked his UK citizenship.
The court also heard he was a director of nine companies, with some registered at offices in Station Road Liphook, and others in Anyards Road, Chobham, Surrey.
Judge Tessa Szagun said: “I find, given the continuing history of lack of compliance, it’s clear to me his intention is at the highest level of avoidance and manipulation and this places his culpability in the highest category of intent.”
Bootes was ordered to pay £82,970 – £60,000 in fines, £22,800 in costs and a £170 surcharge.
But it seems the ambassador-at-large has been bigging it up in Gambia.
In Gambian papers he is described as ‘His Excellency,’ and is praised for his donations of food to government clerks and hand sanitisers to the head of Gambian police during the pandemic last year.
He had even donated his own food, claimed Fatima Sillah, liaison officer to the ambassador-at-large.
She told The Point newspaper the ambassador was very pleased to contribute his own quota to support the Gambian government and people in these difficult times.
On his website https://www.
vincentbootes-ambassadoratlargeofgambia.com Bootes says: “I’m honoured to be the new ambassador-at-large to the Republic of Gambia.
“As ambassador-at-large, my work will focus on different countries and regions.
“I am especially keen to further the Gambian relationship with the UK and Europe as well as use my connections in West Africa.”
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