Post claims estate agency is behind 'libellous' magazine

Evening Post: investigating agency

Reporters investigating an estate agency likely to be the subject of a £1m fraud probe believe they have discovered the source of a magazine making scurrilous accusations against top management at the Nottingham Evening Post.

The newspaper is considering taking legal action for libel over the allegations contained in St George V the Dragon, which appeared first as a leaflet and then as a 40-page glossy, after the reporters established links between estate agency Aaron Scargill and the magazine.

Press Gazette received a faxed copy of the leaflet, which contained extremely damaging allegations against Evening Post staff.

The managing director of the agency, Parmindar "Paul" Johal, has vanished and the company’s offices in the city have been abandoned after the Post published complaints from furious clients that they had lost thousands of pounds.

The police and trading standards officers are also looking into the scandal and the fraud squad is likely to mount an inquiry.

A team of Post reporters – including Matt Laddin, Steven Fletcher, Neil White, Andy Done-Johnson and Tim Walters – have written a series of stories on the collapse of the agency and of its proposed deal to sponsor Notts County. The football club had even decided to change the name of its ground from Meadow Lane to the Aaron Scargill Stadium.

As part of their inquiries, the team discovered that after the agency withdrew its advertising from the Post because of "negative" coverage, it started backing St George V the Dragon.

The publication first sold in newsagents and was then distributed free by Aaron Scargill in the city centre after newsagents refused to give it to customers.

Post staff who met Johal and were offered cigars by him were secretly photographed and a picture of them was published in the magazine.

A printing company which had printed the original version of St George V the Dragon and then refused to release it when it read the contents, said the order had been placed by a man driving an Aaron Scargill vehicle. The proofs were passed by a woman driving a vehicle bearing the Aaron Scargill name, said the printer.

Aaron Scargill was the only company to advertise in the magazine.

No publisher was named in the magazine and when contacted by the Post, a spokesman for Aaron Scargill denied the agency was involved. He went on to warn the reporters that "a dangerous Kosovan" was behind the publication and advised them not to "cross" him.

By Jean Morgan

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