'Goldfinger' wins court victory

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'Goldfinger' wins court victory
« on: July 20, 2004, 18:41:56 »
'Goldfinger' wins court victory over prison authorities

ONE of Britain’s most notorious criminals, the timeshare fraudster John "Goldfinger" Palmer, won a rehearing of his claim to go to an open prison yesterday.

At the High Court in London, he was told his case to be made a low escape risk category D prisoner would be considered afresh by prison authorities.

As Palmer left the court, he shook hands with the actor Sir Roger Moore - Palmer’s solicitor is Giovanni di Stefano, and Sir Roger’s stepdaughter Christina Knudsen has been working for his firm as a legal assistant. Asked how it felt for "007 to shake hands with Goldfinger", Sir Roger joked: "I hope somehow it might rub off."

Palmer, 54, from Bath, was then led back to the cells by three security officers.

During the hearing, the judge, Mr Justice Collins, said a Home Office decision that Palmer was too high a security risk to be downgraded to category D and sent to an open prison was "fatally flawed" .

He went on: "It seems to me there must be a fresh consideration which must take into account all the material Mr Palmer has raised in these proceedings."

Palmer has always maintained he was persecuted by the police after a jury acquitted him of handling gold from the 1983 £26 million Brink’s-Mat bullion robbery at Heathrow airport. The case earned him notoriety and the nickname Goldfinger.

Then, in May 2001, he was jailed for eight years at the Old Bailey for conspiracy to defraud in one of the biggest timeshare swindles to be uncovered. A £33 million confiscation order was imposed on him, but it was overturned by the appeal court.

Last autumn, the prison service stopped Palmer, who will be eligible for release next May, being moved to Springhill open prison, in Buckinghamshire.