Sunday, October 25, 2009

Davies' former agent faces jail

Agent faces jail for stealing £½m from Queen's composer

The former agent of the Master of the Queen's Music was today facing jail for swindling more than half a million pounds from the composer's account after allegedly becoming a gambling addict.

Michael Arnold, 76, admitted taking £522,333 from his lifelong friend, renowned composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, over 16 years.

Sir Peter, 75, who lives in Orkney, only discovered that his account had been plundered in 2006 when he tried to take £40 out of a cash machine only to have his card rejected.

Arnold had complete access to Sir Peter's bank account after managing his business affairs with his wife Judith for 30 years.

When he discovered the theft the royal composer told Arnold he would instruct accountants to check his books prompting his former manager to confess in a letter to taking the money.

Since then Arnold, of Barnet, has sold his house to repay the money and interest after he was taken to the High Court in a civil action.

Remanding him for medical reports, Judge Nicholas Jones at Kingston crown court yesterday warned the starting point was a six-year jail sentence.

Justin Cole, prosecuting, told the court: "The background to the relationship between Michael Arnold and Sir Peter is perhaps one that was ripe for exploitation.

"There was no written agreement setting out the terms of the agency - effectively they could treat his money as their own.

"Despite the lifelong friendship and trust between the two when Sir Peter attempted to withdraw £40 from a cash machine this was rejected for lack of funds. He became suspicious. The information that came to Sir Peter was that Michael Arnold had become a gambling addict."

A spokesman for Sir Peter, known as "Max", refused to comment on the case but added: "It is something which has affected Max very personally."

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