January 29, 2006
MATTHEW MELLON, heir to a =A36.6 billion banking and oil fortune, will
appear in court next month in connection with an investigation into an
alleged phone-tapping and computer hacking gang.
The former husband of Tamara Mellon, who runs the Jimmy Choo shoe
empire, will appear alongside 17 other defendants accused of
involvement in the operation, which allegedly provided clients with
confidential information about wealthy people and businesses.
Following a tip-off from BT, Scotland Yard has conducted a long
investigation into a private detective agency run by a former
policeman which it believed was bugging phone calls.
It is now alleged the group was also hacking into NHS computers to
access confidential medical files to blackmail people, spying on
police and bugging their phone calls to get information. There are
also several charges of falsifying invoices.
One of the group is said to have taken BT overalls, a reflective
jacket and tools, along with a BT works barrier and stool, and a shirt
from NTL, another other telecoms company.
A regular on the London social scene and close friends with Elizabeth
Hurley and Hugh Grant, Mellon, 41, inherited a =A314m trust fund at the
age of 21. He now has a fortune put by The Sunday Times Rich List at
=A350m. His family is held in the same regard in America as the
Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Astors.
He met Tamara Yeardye in 1998. The couple=92s marriage in 2000 at
Blenheim Palace took up eight pages in American Vogue and the bride
wore a Valentino wedding dress encrusted with diamonds. More than half
the guests were said to be wearing Jimmy Choos.
The Mellons spent several years as a golden couple of London society
often appearing in magazine pages and at charity functions. In 2002
they had a daughter, Araminta. But the marriage fell apart amid
revelations of Mellon=92s cocaine habit, which he is said to have
battled in the 1990s, and the couple went through an acrimonious
divorce last year.
After the marriage ended Tamara, who is now worth =A360m in her own
right, began seeing Oscar Humphries, the son of Barry, creator of Dame
Edna Everage. Mellon has recently said he was planning a change in
career from working as chief designer for Harry=92s, an upmarket men=92s
shoe company he launched five years ago =97 he has tried his hand at
film producing in the past.
He remains a colourful figure on the social scene =97 his hobbies are
said to include nude jet skiing =97 and he has had a string of celebrity
girlfriends since his marriage break-up. He is currently seeing Noelle
Reno, a 24-year-old actress.
Mellon, who lives in Belgravia, London, is charged with conspiracy to
cause unauthorised modification of computer material.
Also in the dock at Bow Street magistrates=92 court in February will be
another wealthy businessman, Adrian Kirby, who made his money from
waste disposal units. Kirby, 47, of Haslemere, Surrey, has a fortune
put at =A365m by the Rich List.
He is charged with conspiracy to intercept communications unlawfully,
unauthorised modification of computer material and perverting the
course of justice.
Former Essex police officer Scott Gelsthorpe, 31, of Kettering,
Northamptonshire, is facing 15 charges.
The suspects, 17 men and one woman, come from southern England,
Lincolnshire and France and are said to have committed the offences
between July and September 2004. They will appear before magistrates
on February 23.
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