Councillor Michael Vearncombe a.k.a. Michael Asher


You may remember the fraud scandal surrounding former Westminster Councillor, Michael Vearncombe who was jailed for a year  for embezzling community funds.

The Camden News Journal reported on the case:

” A TORY councillor has quit after the High Court on Friday froze his accounts.

Michael Vearncombe, who represented Marylebone, was issued with the writ by the Bryanston Court Residents’ Association after they found a £120,000 discrepancy in their accounts.

Mr Vearncombe, 50, living in Bryanston Mews East, became managing agent for the Bryanston Court Residents’ Association in 2005.

A spokesman from Franklin Price, the finance lawyers representing the Marylebone residents, confirmed: “A claim has been made by my residents.”

And a Scotland Yard spokesman said: “CID officers at Marylebone are investigating an alleged fraud in Westminster concerning service charges on properties in the Westminster. There have been no arrests and enquiries continue.”

Mr Vearncombe served for 20 years as an officer in the Royal Air Force. He was elected to Marylebone High Street ward in 2002 and in 2006 retained his seat with 1257 votes.

He was Deputy Cabinet Member for Street Environment, on the Licensing Committee and a member of the Supporting Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

He lives with partner Jonathan Fraser-Howells, the Tory agent for the Kensington and Chelsea Conservative Association, in Bryanston Mews East and has been a vociferous campaigner for gay rights.

A council spokesman said: “Councillor Michael Vearncombe has resigned from the council and a by-election will be held for the vacant seat in the Marylebone High Street ward on May 3, 2007.”
Mr Vearncombe was not available for comment.”

” Michael Vearncombe, ex-councillor for Marylebone High Street, was sentenced to one year at Southwark Crown Court on Friday for theft.

The 50-year-old (pictured) pleaded guilty to stealing £94,000 from the Bryanston Court Residents’ Association, for which he was managing agent.

Judge Geoffrey Rivlin gave him the minimum sentence because of his guilty plea.

After the hearing, association member Cheryl Bloom said: “There are many elderly people living in Bryanston Court, some still working, who have been left to pick up the pieces.”

Vearncombe, who served for 20 years as an officer in the Royal Air Force, signed off scores of cheques for cash in HSBC outlets in Marylebone, Baker Street and Pall Mall over a period of 18 months.

His solicitor said his “compulsive shopping” had led him to steal the money.

The residents’ association is in talks with the Official Receiver about whether the money can be recovered and the level of his assets.

Ms Bloom said: “He had given us figures – but we would soon discover they were complete fiction.
“Under the rules of the association, he was legally allowed to write out cheques for cash for less than £700.

“These were for the day-to-day maintenance costs. The bank statements show that during November 2006 he was cashing out three or four times a day – for just under £700.”

Elected councillor for Marylebone High Street ward in 2002 and in 2006, Vearncombe served as deputy cabinet member for environment, on the licensing committee and scrutiny panels.

Ms Bloom added: “When he took over as managing agent we were all very happy. He seemed like a nice guy and very sociable. “He had a very strong CV. You naturally trust someone who is in a position like that don’t you?”

Could this be the same Michael Vearncombe who was a director of the prestigious Duke of Kent school before his fall from grace?

Could this also be the same Michael Vearncombe who owns a hotel in Spain with  Westminster tory “fixer” Jonathan Fraser-Howells and now goes under the pseudonyms of Michael Barak Asher and Michael Asher?

We haven’t got the foggiest idea.


3 thoughts on “Councillor Michael Vearncombe a.k.a. Michael Asher

  1. Oh yes – its the very same pair – name change or not.

    However, the story appears to have moved on somewhat…. (personally I feel more for the unpaid staff)

    (article on top half of page 5 of the local English ex-pat newspaper in that region of Spain. (Think the Paper deserves an award for the standard of journalism – at least amongst other Spanish based English langauge newspapers).

      • You’re welcome. If you can, try to move the story on, as I cannot find any mention of the tory party probe – as referred to in the newspaper article – elsewhere on the web. The article is from Dec 12 – surely things would have moved on by now?! Perhaps someone from within the local assoc could shed some light…

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