Wednesday, June 18, 2014

GOLD SWAGGER: Police Swoop at Edinburgh law firm sparks legal fight by Chief Constable for ownership of £1Million ancient gold crown

Top cop goes for gold after top prosecutor dropped case. A POLICE STING culminating in arrests of persons negotiating the sale of a 2,500 year old gold crown at the premises of Edinburgh law firm Balfour & Manson has led to a court fight involving Chief Constable Sir Stephen House of Police Scotland who wants to establish ownership of the ancient relic. The increasingly political case, heard by judge Lord Brailsford comes even though the Lord Advocate dropped any prosecution against the Turkish cafe owner who claims ownership of the gold artefact and is adamant the item is a family heirloom.

Chief Constable House has hired private law firm Morton Fraser to pursue the case at taxpayers expense, in an effort - legal experts say appears to be solely focused on handing back the treasure to the Turkish Government - even though Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland ordered the item returned to Murat Aksukalli after all charges relating to the swoop on the lawyer’s office in 2010 were dropped.

AND. in spite of attempts by vested interests to hinder public access to information of the court case, a Fife based transparency campaigner & amateur historian - Tom Minogue, has identified the wreath as one looted from a Greek tomb by the Earl of Elgin, famous for the Elgin Marbles. Mr Minogue has submitted evidence to the court and has written about it on his website here: The Gold Wreath riddle

The Scottish Sun newspaper published a highly detailed investigation into the affair:

CROWNED OFF: Cops nab Turk selling £1M relic, Legal fight for Golden Treasure : Ancient Trinket was looted from Tomb

EXCLUSIVE By RUSSELL FINDLAY Investigations Editor Scottish Sun 15 June 2014

UNDERCOVER detectives nabbed a Turkish cafe boss as he tried to sell them a 2,500-year-old gold crown — worth a staggering £1million. Murat Aksakalli claimed the stunning ancient relic had been left to him by his grandfather.

But police believe the precious artefact known as the Edinburgh Crown was looted from Turkey and should be returned. They launched a sting operation and Aksakalli was held as he tried to flog the intricate decorative wreath at a lawyers office in Edinburgh.

A source said they could make a movie out of this and call it Indiana Jones and the Edinburgh Crown. "Its an incredible saga involving a Turkish wheeler dealer, an undercover police sting, the chief constable and the Lord Advocate. The crown is now being held at Police Scotland's Edinburgh HQ as a legal battle is fought over its future.

A Turkish government report claims the treasure may have been plundered from a tomb in the ancient city of Milas between 2000 and 2010.

But 50 year old Aksakalli insists he inherited the controversial antiquity from his grandfather Fazil Aksakalli who died in rural Cemisgezek. And he claims he can prove he had the relic before the ancient tomb was raided.

He said: "I kept it tor years and forgot about it" "The police said that I went to Turkey in 2010 and just started digging and found it"

His lawyer Aamer Anwar added "Just because the Turkish Government say anything remotely connected to them belongs to them doesn't mean that's right in our legal system"

Aksakalli decided to sell the beautifully crafted crown when his cash and carry company hit financial problems. And two of his business associates Ali Sanal and Hakki Ozbey also helped in the attempt to find a buyer. They approached experts at posh auction houses Sotheby's and Bonhams in Edinburgh.

And Aksakalll claims that a police officer friend of his, Lawson Porter also spoke to the National Museum of Scotland about the ancient head decoration on his behalf.

But their activity caught the attention of the now defunct Serious Organised Crime Agency and an undercover cop was deployed in a sting operation. The officer going under the name Ahmed Shakur met Aksakalli it the Hilton and Marriot hotels in Edinburgh and asked to see the crown.

A third meeting was then arranged at the office of bluechip law firm Balfour & Manson in October 2010. Police swooped on the talks in in the city centre and Aksakalli, Sanal and Ozbey were held and the crown taken by detectives.

One source revealed "The official valuation for the purpose of the court action is £225,000 but the true value is thought to be £1million". "It's become known as the Edinburgh Crown because it was found in the capital".

There is no suggestion Balfour-Manson were involved in any wrongdoing. Following the raid Turkish embassy officials met with Detective Superintendent David Gordon and Lindsay Miller, head of the Crown Office 's organised crime division. They claimed the valuable object belonged to their country and demanded its return.

In December 2012, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland decided there would be no criminal proceedings against Aksakalli. But months later he agreed to send the crown to Turkey for seven days to undergo forensic analysis. An expert there concluded that the ornate metal wreath - which his decorated with 50 myrtle leaves and flowers - probably came from a Milas tomb and dated to around 350BC.

But in another twist, an amateur historical claims the golden crown may have been looted from Greece in the 19th century by the Earl of Elgin - famous for taking the sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens now known as the Elgin Marbles. Campaigner Tom Minogue found Elgin had bragged about discovering a golden wreath matching the description of the disputed relic seized in Edinburgh,

He has now joined the legal battle being fought over the crown, claiming it could be the same ancient artefact which was mentioned by Elgin. And he is demanding that the experts in Greece be allowed to examine the antiquity as well - just like the Turkish have already done.

Retired engineering businessman Tom said "There seems to have been a rush to judgement by the Police and the Lord Advocate who determined that a gold wreath was Turkish for no other reason than because the person in possession of it said so and happened to be a UK national of Turkish birth.

"There was no claim of any such gold wreath having been plundered from Turkey other than an unspecified generalisation. "This airy-fairy reasoning by the Turks has caused the Scottish authorities to send the gold wreath to Turkey, during which the Turks were allowed to do anything with it as they wished, without hinderance".

"The question of ownership of the golf wreath should be dealt with in an open, fair and unbiased manner, recognising the fact that Greece, the country that taught the world the meaning of democracy, deserves equal treatment to Turkey in the eyes of the law"

Last night Police Scotland confirmed the crown was still being held while the legal battle over its future continues. A spokesman said: "This item was seized in 2013 during a police operation at business premises in Edinburgh. "It is being held until ownership can be determined by the court"


By Russell Findlay

THE intricate golden artefact dubbed the Edinburgh Crown is thought to date from around 35OBC. It features thin branches wound around a wreath with around 50 deli­cate myrtle leaves and rosettes.

The relic is crafted from 98 to 99.5 per cent pure ancient gold and would have been placed in a tomb in either Greece or Turkey. And experts believe the treasure could be worth up to £1 million.

The Edinburgh Crown is very similar to one unearthed in the Piraeus in Athens by the Earl of Elgin in the 19th century.His discovery was recorded in a book about the aristocrat’s travels in Greece.

Elgin presented to parliament a list of the items that he had removed from the country.But missing from this list in 1811 was the gold wreath. The Earl speculated that the crown may have come from a site known as the tomb of Aspasia.

HISTORY & MYSTERIES 350BC Gold crown is buried in royal tomb in Greece or Turkey.

1816 Lord Elgin sells Greek artefacts to the UK but a gold wreath he discovered is missing. 1982 Aksakalli claims he inherits gold wreath from grandfather. 1989 He moves from Turkey to Scotland and claims he later brings over the treasure. 2000-2010 Looting takes place at archaeological ruins in ancient Milas, Turkey 2004 Campaigner Tom Minogue urges Fife Police to probe items taken from Greece by Elgin, including a gold wreath. 2007 Aksakalli begins exploring attempts to sell the crown. SEPT 2010 He meets potential buyer who is actually an undercover cop. OCT 2010 Aksakalli is arrested. 2011 Scots police and prosecutors meet Turkish officials. 2012 Lord Advocate drops case against Aksakalli. MAR 2013 Crown sent to Turkey for analysis, then returned. MAR 2014 Police go to court to try to legally obtain wreath and hand it to Turkey. APRIL 2014 Minogue lodges legal claim that crown may be the one taken by Elgin.


Top Cop goes for gold. Redacted documents relating to the civil action raised by the Chief Constable of Police Scotland over the gold wreath have now been released by the Scottish Courts.

The Chief Constable’s pleadings in court revealed: “In or around July 2010 Lothian and Borders Police received information that two men were believed to be in possession of a stolen golden wreath of Turkish origin and were attempting to sell it. On 5 October 2010 the first defender, along with Ali Sanal and Hakki Ozbey, was detained at the offices of Balfour & Manson, solicitors, 54-66 Frederick Street, Edinburgh on suspicion of reset. The three suspects were in possession of the fund in medio and were attempting to secure its sale. All three are Turkish nationals.”

“At interview the first defender asserted ownership of the fund in medio. The first defender and said Sanal and Ozbey were released without charge pending further inquiries. A report was submitted to the Procurator Fiscal. The pursuer retained possession of the fund in medio on the instructions of the Procurator Fiscal.”

“On 27 December 2012 the Lord Advocate instructed that no criminal proceedings would be taken against the first defender, or any other person, in respect of the fund in medio due to an insufficiency of evidence. The Lord Advocate instructed that the fund in medio should be returned to its owner.”


Anonymous said...

Does it not strike you as odd that the Law Society of Scotland's own lawyer Balfour & Manson are named as being involved in this?


Anonymous said...

Blimey! What is it with Edinburgh.
Their legal shenanigans are truly unique.

Anonymous said...

If the Police are so sure of this crown's origin then why are the Crown Office Civil Recovery Unit not leading the case instead of Morton Fraser.

Police Chief hiring private lawyers to pursue private property after the Crown say it should be returned to owner sets a dangerous precedence.

Anonymous said...

“On 27 December 2012 the Lord Advocate instructed that no criminal proceedings would be taken against the first defender, or any other person, in respect of the fund in medio due to an insufficiency of evidence. The Lord Advocate instructed that the fund in medio should be returned to its owner.”

So why wasnt it returned after this?

Dont like the way this is going anyone else smell something in the background?

Anonymous said...

and let that be a lesson to anyone fool enough to do business in the offices of Scottish law firms

Anonymous said...

All the high heid yins including the judges will be trying it on for size

Anonymous said...

Looks like a lot of effort just to go to for an antique so what else is going on we are not being told about?

Anonymous said...

This sounds highly suspicious

Anonymous said... has the same ring to it

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

and let that be a lesson to anyone fool enough to do business in the offices of Scottish law firms

18 June 2014 17:12

Amen to that!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
All the high heid yins including the judges will be trying it on for size

18 June 2014 20:24

Does my bum look big in this?

Anonymous said...

Totally bonkers the crown was sent to Turkey when it should have stayed in Scotland and had tests done here.

There is clearly something going on in the background here.Political double dealing and handshakes between Edinburgh and Turkey.

Anonymous said...

Something very dodgy going on here no wonder they wanted to keep it quiet

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

If the Police are so sure of this crown's origin then why are the Crown Office Civil Recovery Unit not leading the case instead of Morton Fraser.

Police Chief hiring private lawyers to pursue private property after the Crown say it should be returned to owner sets a dangerous precedence.

18 June 2014 15:36

Nothing is safe (if its genuinely yours or not) if someone in the justice system has decided they want it off you.

Just ask the sheriff clerk who ended up with a £350,000 4 bedroom house for £70,000 out of a bogus sequestration signed off by his local sheriff.

Anonymous said...

The show me the money brigade, squabbling over the spoils of someone else's property?

Anonymous said...

and compare the way this is going what Lord Glennie said in the davinci payout case today!

Da Vinci accused Marshall Ronald's payout bid proceeds

A judge has rejected a move to dismiss a bid to sue the Duke of Buccleuch for £4.25m over the return of a stolen Leonardo da Vinci painting.

Marshall Ronald, 57, is seeking the payout following the recovery of the Madonna of the Yarnwinder.

He was cleared in 2010 of conspiring to extort money for its return.

Lawyers for the duke described the bid to sue as "an attempt to extort a sum of money" but a judge decided it should go to a hearing of evidence.

Mr Ronald, of Upholland, Lancashire, was acquitted with others of a conspiracy to extort money for the safe return of the masterpiece at a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh in 2010.

The valuable artwork had been stolen from the Duke of Buccleuch's Drumlanrig Castle seven years earlier.

After the court case, Mr Ronald raised an action claiming that he was due payment for the return of the painting which was recovered in 2007.

At first he was suing both the duke and the police but dropped his claim against the police last year.

The duke is contesting his claims and his lawyers moved to dismiss the action.

They say the agreement Mr Ronald is seeking to rely on is "unenforceable as being illegal and contrary to public policy".

However, Lord Glennie said that it was "by no means obvious" that a "to whom it may concern" letter written as part of a police undercover operation was not meant to be taken at face value.

"It is by no means impossible to conceive of a case where, as part of a police operation to recover a painting, a reward is offered to someone who may be in a position to facilitate its recovery, and the reward is paid to that person when the painting is in fact recovered," he said.

"I accept that it is no doubt also possible to conceive of a situation where the offer of a reward is not intended to be genuine, and the letter granting authority to the intermediary to make that offer on behalf of the owner of the painting is indeed intended as a sham."

He added that on Mr Ronald's pleadings in the action it was alleged that the agreement was made at a time when he was not in possession of the stolen painting and did not know who had it.

"The best that can be said is that he was in a position in which he had the opportunity, through others, to pay money in the hope of procuring its release," he said.

"If this is the true picture, I can see no basis upon which it can be said that his negotiation of an agreement to be paid a handsome reward for his part in procuring the release of the painting amounts to extortion.

"It might be quite different if he himself had possession of the painting or it was within his control; but that is not what is presently averred either by the pursuer or even by the defender.

"As matters stand, I do not accept that the pursuer's case is bound to fail on grounds of illegality or public policy."

Anonymous said...

This stinks, and so do Balfour and Manson - a firm to steer clear of believe me, I know.

Diary of Injustice said...

@19 June 2014 12:58

Good point ... and there are a few Sheriff Clerks & higher who fit the terms of your comment ...

Anonymous said...

This is just like the Da Vinci case all over again. The police have to be transparent in their dealings. It is wrong to suppress key evidence. Whose interests are being served. The police are there to serve the public not act in a partisan manner to the aristoracy or foreign governments

Anonymous said...

Edinburgh owes Turkey a lot in the Council's eyes. The reason for the Turkish President visiting Edinburgh recently is, that Edinburgh received a £80M loan to finance Edinburgh Trams.

Anonymous said...

Interesting you covered this and then your name came up somewhere.What is your interest?