05 December 2018

A lawyer is still owed more than £1 million from an ex-lover con artist, almost 10 years after a court awarded a judgment in her favour.

Moira O'Hara of WGS Solicitors in Paddington met Paul Markham in 1999 whilst giving him advice as a volunteer at the Citizen's Advice Bureau. The pair started a relationship, during which Markham duped O'Hara into lending him hundreds of thousands of pounds. Markham claimed he would repay O'Hara from the profits of a French film project, but instead he used the money to buy fine art, and never repaid O'Hara.

In 2009 the matter was brought before the court. Markham argued that O'Hara had agreed to pay him the huge sums for his provision of emotional support and helping to look after her children from her broken marriage. The judge dismissed this as "unbelievable",adding that Markham was "charming" (not in a good way) and a "convincing conman" (also not great). The judge added that O'Hara's reasoning when loaning the money had been "clouded by love". The court ordered that Markham repay £850,000 in cash plus £300,000 in interest.

Almost 10 years on and Markham has only paid a fraction of the sum owed, with over £1 million still outstanding. The confidence trickster has now appeared in court with an application to set-off his debt, claiming that O'Hara is holding onto £900,000 worth of his possessions including an antique Chinese pot. The judge dismissed the application as an abuse of process, "meritless", and said it was based on an "entirely fanciful" valuation by Markham of his antiques.

Antiques road show
"Don't disappoint me, Mr Antiques Roadshow man"

The judge said that the court would be minded to make a civil restraint order against Markham if he made any similar applications in the future. He also lambasted Markham for using the court process to "harass" O'Hara. He added that Markham, who claims to have no assets, clearly has no intention of repaying O'Hara. 

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