Note: Together with Chris R. Tame, I had extensive dealings with Sandy Ezekiel in 2003-04. I will not discuss the nature of these dealings, but his conviction for fraud does not at all surprise me. The modern presumption must be that anyone who goes into politics does so to make money. Unless shown otherwise beyond reasonable doubt, the only difference I can see between Mr Ezekiel and any other Councillor and Member of Parliament is that he was unlucky enough to be caught. SIG
FORMER Thanet council leader Sandy Ezekiel was jailed for 18 months today for misconduct in public office.
Judge Andrew Nicol sentenced the disgraced Cliftonville East member after the jury reached a unanimous verdict in a landmark ten-day trial at Maidstone Crown Court.
His friend, Philip Emanuel received a suspended 12-month sentence after his conviction for aiding and abetting him to buy a council-owned house in Margate Old Town.
Ezekiel was also found guilty of using his position to demand enforcement action against a neighbouring shop in King Street, resulting in the eventual purchase.
Mr Justice Nicol said: “These are grave offences. Those in public office sometimes gain great prestige but with that comes great responsibility.
“The public put their trust in councillors. It is essential in a democracy that the public can be confident that those who hold office and exercise those responsibilities on their behalf do so with integrity and honesty.
“If that trust is abused, as you have done, you have to understand that punishment will follow.”
Misconduct in public office by a councillor is a rare case but police and prosecutors welcomed the sentence.
Detective Sergeant Adrian Brown, who led the investigation, said: “Ezekiel abused his position of power and trust in a public office to wrongly put pressure on the owners of 12a King Street to sell in an already stressful economic climate.
“This came after he had already deceived his own council, of which he was meant to be the leader, by getting his close, long-standing friend Philip Emanuel to purchase 12b King Street on his behalf.
“This sends out a strong message to anyone thinking of misusing their power that they will be investigated and pursued to the full extent of the law.”
Nigel Pilkington, Head of South East Complex Casework Unit, said: “Ezekiel abused his position as an elected public official by using information not available to the general public to purchase two adjoining properties in a regeneration area of Margate.
“It was clear from the evidence he did his for his own advantage.
“He well knew he was bound by a code of conduct and despite this he didn’t notify council officers of his involvement.”
There will be a hearing in June to determine confiscation of assets.
For full reaction to the verdict, see next week’s Isle of Thanet Gazette.