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Owner of Durham stately home Windlestone Hall arrested on suspicion of fraud; Businessman William Davenport, who bought the stately home for just [pounds sterling]241,000, has been arrested following an investigation into the sale of the home.

Byline: Hannah Flint

The owner of a Durham stately home where a former prime minister was born has been arrested on suspicion of fraud.

William Davey, 58, owner of Windlestone Hall near Rushyford, Sedgefield, was arrested in November over fraud claims and is due to answer bail later this month.

The Grade II stately home sold for just [pounds sterling]241,000 from Durham City Council - [pounds sterling]1m less than one buyer had been prepared to pay.

The controversial sale of the home, where former Tory prime minister Sir Anthony Eden was born, was widely criticised last year with an investigation being launched prior to the businessman's arrest.

County councillors John Shuttleworth and Reg Ord contacted the Audit Commission -- whose remit is to protect the public purse -- to ask it to hold a "full and public investigation" into the sale of the stately home for [pounds sterling]241,000.

Seven years ago the council accepted a conditional [pounds sterling]2.3m offer from a housing group, Randall Orchard Whitelam Homes, which intended to build luxury flats within the hall's grounds.

The offer, which was subject to planning permission, was later revised down to [pounds sterling]1.5m due to planning restrictions and structural damage to the hall.

Durham Police confirmed the arrest but no details of where the businessman was arrested or the details of the fraud were given.

A spokesman for the force said: "A 58-year-old man from Country Durham was arrested on November 10 on suspicion of fraud.

"Durham Constabulary and Durham County Council continue to work closely regarding this investigation. The individual arrested has no known connection with either organisation.

"He is currently on bail, pending further enquiries."

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Publication:The Chronicle (Newscastle upon Tyne, England)
Date:Jan 14, 2015
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