'LONG FELLA' David Hunt leaves the High Court in London during libel trial
A MAN who was branded a major "organised crime boss" by a High Court judge has a £1 million price on his life, it has emerged. David Hunt, 57, was described by Lord Justice Peregrine Simon as the "head of an organised crime network implicated in extreme violence and fraud" across London and the Home Counties in the judgement of a libel trial he lost against The Sunday Times. However, the £1million figure is not a bounty placed on his head, but the amount the property tycoon has insured his life for, we can reveal. The man, allegedly known as the "Long Fella" in gangland circles due to his 6ft5 stature, has insured his life for the sum through Legal and General. The life insurance policy was used as partial security for an around £4million Mr Hunt's company Hunt's (UK) Properties Ltd borrowed from the then Lloyds TSB Bank during the libel trial, which left him with an £805,000 bill for The Sunday Times' legal costs in 2013.
The life insurance policy was taken out in April 2013 and expires in 2028, when Mr Hunt would be 67, according to documents in connection with the lending filed at Companies House. Mr Hunt presides over an around £23million property empire, including a scrap yard in Dagenham, east London and various flats, pubs, restaurants and businesses, according to the latest annual unaudited accounts for the business up to June 2017 filed this March.
Tranquil: David Hunt's firm began selling Woolston Manor Golf and Country Club last year
However, the portfolio may have decreased after he sold his flagship Woolston Manor Golf and Country Club in Abridge, Essex, last August. Mr Hunt tried to sue the newspaper for Libel over a series of articles in 2010 that linked him to the Adams north London organised crime family, the notorious Krays, and branded him a "criminal profiting from the compulsory purchase of land for the Olympic Park paid for by a £20m government fund."
It later emerged after the leaking of a Met Police 2002 anti-corruption report named Operation Tiberius that investigators had concluded alleged crime syndicates such as the Adams family and Mr Hunt's were able to evade prosecution because they had several corrupt serving and ex detectives working for them and could "infiltrate the force at will." Lord Justice Simon said the Times had not necessarily proved its claims that Mr Hunt was involved in murders and drugs trafficking, but said he was convinced Mr Hunt used violence and intimidation to scare witnesses and avoid prosecutions. Throughout the five-week trial, Mr Hunt was portrayed by his lawyer as a rough diamond businessman, who had built up a legitimate property empire after a tough upbringing in Canning Town, east London, but he was "heartbroken" by the claims. Mr Hunt secured the rest of the Lloyds TSB £4million loan against property including the scrapyard.
He also borrowed £1million from an investment company, run by close friend West Ham Football Club co-owner David Sullivan, 69, which has since been placed into voluntary liquidation. Matthew Jenkins of Hughmans Solicitors, who represents Mr Hunt, said his client continues to deny any involvement in criminality. He said: "Mr Hunt is a legitimate businessman who has never had any involvement in organised crime in any form. "His financial affairs, and those of Hunt’s (UK) Properties Limited, are private." A Legal and General spokeswoman said it was difficult to bar someone from life cover unless they had criminal convictions.
MR MILLION: The life insurance policy as seen on Companies House
She said: "If we identified that someone was a member of an organised crime group during the application or underwriting process we would look to avoid taking the risk but we don’t ask about crime on the application form though, and with a high immediate acceptance rate, with our line application process then this would probably not be possible. "Also we only screen life products once they are underwritten and accepted but secondly we are screening for financial crime convictions rather than allegations of involvement in organised crime." A spokesman for Lloyds Bank, which now administers the loans, said it could not comment on individual customers. He said: "In our dealings with customers, we comply with all the relevant rules and regulations in relation to financial crime and we are subject to regulatory oversight. "Where we ask customers for security, we look at a variety of options which include personal or business assets. This is standard practice across the industry."