Ronald HarperImage copyright PA
Image caption Ronald Harper was suspended after working for the household for 18 years

The man in charge of maintaining Buckingham Palace has been jailed for five years after he accepted more than £100,000 in bribes.

Ronald Harper, 64, from Suffolk, took payments or gifts from companies who were then given large contracts.

He was also responsible for St James’s Palace, Clarence House and Windsor Castle from 1994 until he was suspended in 2012.

Southwark Crown Court heard he had “multiple sides to his character”.

Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith told Harper he was a “hard-working, apparently loyal team player, admired and trusted by … colleagues”, but he was also “dishonest and greedy”.

He went on: “But nobody could have guessed that a trusted insider such as yourself could think of going to the lengths that you did to corrupt the system for personal gain.

“Your betrayal of your colleagues’ trust and your lack of remorse at what you did are both remarkable.”

Image caption Some of the bribes related to maintenance contracts for Buckingham Palace

Harper, from Sudbury, was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to make corrupt payments following two trials in June and August.

The corrupt bribes were made directly to him, to a family member or were directly used to pay off some of his credit card debts.

The court heard Harper received at least £85,000 from Melton Power Services (MPS) between 2006 and 2011, and £20,000 from BSI Nordale in 2011.

Also sentenced:

  • Former MPS director Steven Thompson, 62, from Leicestershire: Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make corrupt payments and fraud by abuse of position and was jailed for 18 months
  • BSI Nordale director Christopher Murphy, 56, from Essex: Sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment for conspiracy to make corrupt payments
  • Alan Rollinson, 67, of Leigh-on-Sea, Essex: Harper’s brother-in-law, Rollinson was given 12 months suspended for two years for converting or transferring criminal property
  • BSI Nordale director Aseai Zlaou, 41, from Witham, Essex: Suspended 12 month sentence for conspiracy to make corrupt payments and ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work
  • Glynn Orridge, 67, from Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire: Pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position and ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid community work
Image copyright Google
Image caption Harper first worked for the Royal Households, including St James’s Palace, in 1994

The court heard the tender processes and payment systems were manipulated, invoices were fabricated and a Royal Warrant was granted to MPS on the recommendation of Harper.

As a result, the Royal Household was overcharged for the necessary work.

Both MPS and BSI inflated the price of contracts and the additional amounts were then used to create a fund from which the bribes were paid.

The sought-after Royal Warrant given to MPS in 2005 in recognition of excellence was “well in advance of any criminality in this case” and there was “nothing to say” the company should not have received it, Martin Taylor, defending Harper, said.

The Crown Prosecution Service described it as a “complex scam”.

‘Sophisticated’

Nick Vamos, head of Special Crime at the CPS, said: “It was a long-running, sophisticated and well-planned fraud in which they exploited the good name and status of the Royal Household to enrich themselves at the taxpayers’ expense.”

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “While this was an isolated case, it has reinforced the Royal Household’s broader commitment and determination to maintain good governance and prevent corruption.”

Source: BBC