Did Harlequin’s David Ames falsely accuse builder Paudie O’Halloran?

Just last June, David Ames, Chairman of Harlequin Hotels and Resorts, sent Barbados Free Press a statement alleging that Paudie O’Halloran is “spreading these lies and trying to undermine the success of Harlequin‘s resorts in the Caribbean”. This followed a November 2011 statement by Harlequin that directly accused Paudie O’Halloran of running an internet site that published information about Harlequin and Ames: obviously referring to the Harlecon.com websites.

Now Mr. Ames says that Harlequin’s old accountants are responsible.

So which is it, Mr. Ames? Was it your old accountants who are behind the now-defunct Harlecon website, or was it Mr. O’Halloran… or both? And now Harlequin’s famous “We’ll sue anybody for any reason” lawyers Carter-Ruck have started their slash and burn routine.

BFP must publish the Echo-News article here because anything about Harlequin seems to disappear faster than Owen Arthur or Freundel Stuart do when anyone says the words “Integrity Legislation”…

Southend Accountants Deny Barbados Apartments Libel

Holiday resort firm sues over spoof website fraud claims

Exclusive
by Jon Austin
jon.austin@nqe.com

A Southend accountancy firm is being sued for libel amid claims its senior staff were behind an anonymous spoof website which accused a luxury resort developer of fraud. 

Basildon-based Harlequin Property has lodged a High Court defamation and breach of confidence claim for undisclosed damages against former auditors Wilkins Kennedy and two senior accountants.

The claim accused staff at Wilkins Kennedy, based in Southend, of being behind the Harlecon website which likened Harlequin – offering investments in Caribbean holiday resorts – to the “Ponzi scheme” frauds of Charles Ponzi, Bernard Madoff and Allen Stanford.

Harlequin condemns as false and “wildly defamatory” all of the allegations made on the website, which was taken offline after a complaint to Wilkins Kennedy by Harlequin’s solicitors, Carter Ruck, who also want an injunction against the fefendants making any further defamatory publications.

Wilkins Kennedy says it plans to defend the claims.

Harlequin has partnerships with tennis ace Pat Cash, golf legend Gary Player, footballer andy Townsend and Liverpool Football Club. It was also praised in a promotional video by TV homes expert Phil Spencer.

Papers submitted to the court by Harlequin say company boss David Ames, 60, was libellously described on the site as a “sad little conman”.

They further added Mr. Ames was likened to the Rev Jim Jones, “a cult leader responsible for mass suicide and murder”, and labelled a “shadow director” who “believes that bribery and corruption should b e legalised”.

Harlequin has attracted many investors from the UK and is run by Mr Ames and wife Carole, 61, from Brock Hill, Wickford, and son Daniel Ames, 35, from Castledon Road, Downham.

Harlequin spent months tracking down those it believes are responsible for the website. The libel claim states: “The publishers took great lengths to hide their identities, registering the domain name in Singapore and using an anonymous hosting company in the United States.

“The claimants and each of them have suffered very serious damage to their reputations and the personal claimants have suffered very severe stress and embarrassment.” The Ames family allege Martin MacDonald, a partner at Wilkins Kennedy’s Southend branch, probided documents and helped Jeremy Newman, another senior director, to run the Harlecon website.

the claim says the site contained “a myriad of wildly defamatory allegations” and abusive comments, ran to more than 1,300 pages and had up to 1,000 hits per day from October 2011 to June 27 this year, when it was removed.

Harlequin accuses the website of falesly branding its overseas property investments as “a massive criminal fraud, perhaps the largest of its kind ever in the UK” and says there were further baseless allegations about its hiding “the theft of purchaser funds”.

Harlecon is said to have included a personal “message to Dave Ames” which said: “The site is designed to take an aggressive stance against you and your business model which is designed to ensure that you and your agents are the primary beneficiaries of purchaser funds.” Harlequin also claims the two accountants supplied information to the Echo, and that Wilkins Kennedy was “vicariously liable” for their conduct.

Additional breach of confidence allegations concerna a string of e-mails said to have been published on the website about Harlequin’s business activities.

Dave Fenn, managing partner for Wilkins Kennedy, who also spoke for Mr. MacDonald, said: “We have filed an acknowledgement of service, indicating that we intend to defend the claim in its entirety.”

Mr. Newman declined to comment.

How Harlequin’s lawyers pursue firm’s online critics

Harlequin has acted against other critical websites.

– In May, a couple seeking a refund of a deposit for an unbuilt property in the Dominican Republic set up an internet site. It was later suspended “pending discussion with Harlequin”.

– In March, an investor set up a site about Harlequin under a false name. She took it down after posting that she had received a warning from libel lawyers Carter Ruck.

– In January 2011, Harlequin won about 70,000 pounds damages plus legal costs from investment forum Singing Pig and owner Philip Martin, after the publication of defamatory statements.

“We’ll finish resort”

Long awaited work on a mega-resort in Barbods will go ahead, Harlequin has promised.

About 1,000 people invested in properties at the Merricks Beach Resort, initially due to be completed in 2008.

At a press conference, company bosses vowed planning matters were being resolved and the first phase would be finished in two years.

At least 6,000 “off plan” overseas properties across Caribbean resorts and one in Brazil have been sold by Harlequin sinced 2006, with around 300 built at Buccament Bay, St. Vincent.

In April, the Echo revealed some investors wanted deposits back due to delays.

Harlequin says this was less than one percent of its investors.

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Did Harlequin’s David Ames falsely accuse builder Paudie O’Halloran?

  1. Henry

    Once again Ames seems to have decided with out a care for his investors money, as that is what he is using to fight against a well established and highly regarded firm of accountants. As in the past Ames uses monies that should be for construction to fight to keep his business model afloat.
    It will be interesting when Wilkins Kennedy file there defence, as they have stated they will do so shortly, what revelations will come from them as they walked away from Ames two years ago it seems anyone who disagrees with Ames ends up in litigation paid out of investors funds.
    If as Ames stated here on BFP that Mr. O’Halloran was behind the site why was no action taken against him or is it as with many statements made by Ames that he has forgotten what he said the day before.
    It would appear that he has, but by using litigation and blaming anyone that has ever had a connection with him he creates a smoke screen to cover up for his business woes. He seems to blame all outsiders but maybe he should look closer to home and put his own house in order before accusing all and sundry.
    Buccament Bay seems that the workers there have still not been paid for the last 4 weeks and were told that another new quantity surveyor had been appointed and a new system to pay staff directly from the UK has been implemented. Even the Ex Pat employees are being left out of being paid awaiting this new system.
    On another note it would seem that Procure It Direct and Ames have fallen out with Ames accusing their Managing Director Mr Andy Smith of theft and overcharging, do I see another expensive litigation on the horizon!!!

  2. Fool and his money

    How can Harlequin build out its current projects when they have spent everything they have collected with zero accountability to their ‘investors’?

    When this one fails, it will send shockwaves through the Caribbean, not because the failure couldn’t be foreseen: but when the truth is known about how much money went to Caribbean politicians.

    The rot runs deep on this one!

  3. Pingback: Investors’ Class Action lawsuit against Harlequin shaping up in the United Kingdom | Barbados Free Press

  4. 18

    O’ My Lord, yet another attack (Bored, Bored) same old nonsense and attacks from people that have no idea of how the Harlequin model works. Please – serious investors are not interested in this mindless twaddle.

  5. 241

    How does it work? How is it beneficial for an investor to have invested 6 years ago and not seen the home started yet, and see all projects without construction going on and IFAs creaming all my money in commissions?

  6. yatiniteasy

    I have another word for “The Harlequin Model”….Ponzi.

  7. harlequin?

    This needs reading now!!

  8. 158

    What needs reading now?

  9. Anonymous

    Dave Ames may be useless as a Developer, but he is certainly good at litigation using Investors money to pay expensive solicitors. At least that takes everyone’s attention away from the fact that he is not building. He accuses everyone else. It’s not my fault…what a joker!

  10. Anonymous

    well done Paidi O