Celebrated composer Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber and broadcaster Sir David Frost yesterday told a Birmingham jury how they were asked to put money into an investment scheme by an alleged fraudulent accountant.
Both celebrities gave evidence at Birmingham Crown Court in a long-running fraud trial in which it is alleged two accountants defrauded clients out of cash through high-yield investment schemes that offered spectacular returns.
Shinder Gangar, 46, and Alan White, 49, who ran Leicester-based accounting firm Dobb, White & Co, have denied two charges of conspiracy to defraud between 1996 and 2005 and one charge of conspiracy to commit corruption.
Both Lord Webber and Sir David were each in the witness box of Court One for about quarter of an hour giving evidence.
Lord Webber, the composer of musicals such as Cats and Starlight Express said he was a director of Really Useful Company and met Gangar at the company's boardroom in April 2002.
Asked whether Gangar explained the details of the investment scheme he said: "He did but I must confess I did not really understand it."
The peer said that, as he normally did, he referred Gangar to his business manager who dealt with financial matters.
Lord Webber said, though, he was "worried" when during the course of the conversation Gangar suggested that by being a member of the House of Lords he might be able to find others who might be interested in investing.
Lord Webber said he never invested in any such scheme or allowed his name to be used to promote it.
Under cross-examination, he was asked whether he was aware that £1.2 million worth of investments had been put into two of his shows. He replied: "I do not get myself involved in the raising of investments. I am a composer of musicals. That is what my role is."
Jonathan Webster, the composer's business manager, told the court he also had a meeting with Gangar and that the scheme suggested by the defendant was "highly complex" involving off-shore accounts offering spectacular returns.
He said it appeared to be too good to be true and that no money was invested.
Sir David Frost told the jury that he and film producer Jonathan Stables were looking six years ago to make a gangster film, called Jack Spot, set in the 1950s.
He was introduced to Gangar as a potential investor in the project and they met in the 68-year-old presenter's offices.
Sir David said the film was never made, he had never received any money from his business dealings with Gangar or allowed him to use his name to be used to promote the investment scheme.