Dr Francis Leigh Moss
Moss said that Daniel Price was confident, well spoken and had an air of knowledge – he spoke the language (of wine investment). In October 2009 he agreed to buy a case of 2008 Ausone (St Emilion) en primeur for £7740. As well as his invoice Moss received a Templar Vintners brochure, which looked 'glossy', 'professional', 'establishment – at the upper end of the market and a 'multi-million pound' company stating that 'Templar Vintners is one of the leading fine and rare wine merchants'.
It was arranged that the wines Moss wanted to sell would be bought by Bordeaux Index Ltd "a highly reputable, secure company (Moss)" and the wines transferred from Branford bond to London City Bond. The deal was worth between £13,000 and £15,000. Templar Vintners would use the money raised to buy new wines for Moss.
Before he went ahead with this new deal Moss decided, given the amount of money involved, that he needed to do more research. He checked with Companies House and discovered that Templar Vintners was incorporated in 2008 and had changed its name during 2009. There were two directors: Andrew Griffiths and James Allie. Moss could find out little about Griffiths but discovered that Allie was a Liberal Democrat councillor in Brent, so felt reassured.
Moss was also worried that the firm's address Hamilton House was 'an address of convenience'. That his contact with Templar Vintners was by mobile phone and that the brochure had used material from other companies – "cut and pasted". "Looking at the brochure I became more concerned – not a true and genuine document'. He told Templar Vintners that he was not prepared at this time to go through with the deal.
On a Friday evening in January around 5pm he spoke on the phone with an Ethan Brook who was "agitated, angry and affronted". Brook accused him of "neneging on the deal – a deal that he had requested". Moss asked for his money back on the previous deals but was told that this wasn't possible for legal reasons as under the Distance Selling Regulations there was a six week tiime period.
Moss asked for reassurance that this was a genuine deal and asked for a signed letter from Andrew Griffiths or James Allie. He asked in particular for reassurances from James Allie as he thought someone in James Allie's position would not be involved in something that was not legal and above board.
Moss never received a signed letter from either Griffiths or James Allie. He did receive an email purporting to come from Allie but it wasn't signed. The transfer never went ahead nor has he received any money back for the two cases of 2008 that he ordered.
Under cross-examination from Mr Smith, representing Andrew Griffiths, Moss agreed that the brochure didn't mention 'multi-million pound company'. However he drew this inference from Templar's claim: 'our clients benefit directly from our immense buying power, amassed through years of experience'.
The trial continues.
3rd November 2010:
Please note that Andrew Griffiths has now been severed (official parlance) from this case with a new trial date to be set in due course.