James Stunt ‘used cocaine every day for two years after death of brother Lee Stunt’


Socialite James Stunt broke down in court as he admitted to having been a ‘functioning addict’ who used cocaine every day for two years following the death of his brother and explosive split from his ex-wife, Petra Ecclestone.

The 40-year-old fought through tears to insist his late brother Lee, who passed away in 2016, was ‘the nicest person I’ve ever known’ as he blasted the ‘slanderous charges made against him in court’.

Stunt, giving evidence for the first time as part of a £266million money laundering case, told the jury he has been addicted to Valium, morphine, cocaine and gambling and has ‘an addictive personality’. 

The socialite claimed he was a ‘functioning addict’ who used Class A drugs to battle through the death of his sibling and his high-profile £5.5billion divorce to F1 heiress Petra Ecclestone in 2017. 

Stunt described how, following Lee’s death, he took cocaine ‘every day for two years’ and said the drug was a ‘good, bad friend’. 

‘That’s the only illegal substance I have ever taken other than trying marijuana twice at boarding school to be cool,’ Stunt added. 

He later insisted he had been ‘clean’ for the last two years and said he took regular urine tests with a doctor ‘for the sake of my children’.

Stunt also claimed that at one stage of his life he was the ‘second biggest gambler in the world’, risking up to £5 million in an evening and potentially losing hundreds of thousands of pounds. 

He also denied being a ‘glib, arrogant man’ and said that he used humour as a ‘coping mechanism’ to avoid getting angry ‘after hearing some of the slanderous things said in this court about my brother’. 

The jury has heard the alleged operation saw £266 million deposited in the bank account of Bradford gold dealer Fowler Oldfield from 2014 to 2016.

Prosecutors say ‘criminal cash’ was brought from all over the country to Fowler Oldfield’s premises in Bradford, West Yorkshire, before the scheme ‘went national’ and Stunt’s offices in London also started receiving money.

Stunt and seven other defendants have all denied allegations of money laundering. 

Socialite James Stunt, 40, (pictured arriving at court today) is the former husband of Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone and facing trial over an alleged network which the court heard saw millions of pounds deposited in the bank account of Bradford gold dealer Fowler Oldfield over two years

Socialite James Stunt, 40, (pictured arriving at court today) is the former husband of Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone and facing trial over an alleged network which the court heard saw millions of pounds deposited in the bank account of Bradford gold dealer Fowler Oldfield over two years

Stunt also addressed his marriage to Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone (pictured above in 2011) - telling jurors how he was in love with his then-wife, 'not her bank account' as he denied 'living off' the wealth of his former spouse

Stunt also addressed his marriage to Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone (pictured above in 2011) – telling jurors how he was in love with his then-wife, ‘not her bank account’ as he denied ‘living off’ the wealth of his former spouse 

James Stunt also spoke of a family trust fund set up by the Ecclestone family and added ‘that’s the kind of control Bernie Ecclestone had over my marriage'. Stunt has denied the allegations of money laundering and forgery

James Stunt also spoke of a family trust fund set up by the Ecclestone family and added ‘that’s the kind of control Bernie Ecclestone had over my marriage’. Stunt has denied the allegations of money laundering and forgery

Socialite James Stunt claims Bernie Ecclestone kept a close eye on his marriage to F1 heiress Petra – but denies he was a ‘kept man’ as he insists: ‘I loved my ex-wife, not her bank account’

Socialite James Stunt today told a Leeds court how he was ‘not a kept man’, despite his ex-wife’s enormous wealth. ‘I loved my ex-wife but I wasn’t in love with her bank account’, he insisted.

‘I did not live off my wife – she lived with me and I felt very uncomfortable living in a home which was not owned by me or my family, maybe that sounds old-fashioned, I don’t know.

‘Miss Ecclestone lived with me, she owned a large house in Chelsea and a gigantic house in Beverly Hills as well.

‘I was not a kept man but I had a very rich wife and I was doing very well myself.

‘I don’t compare myself to Bernie Ecclestone, he’s 92 and one of the richest men in the world.’

He spoke of a family trust fund set up by the Ecclestone family and added ‘that’s the kind of control Bernie Ecclestone had over my marriage.

‘Her [Petra’s] family were very controlling of my marriage, let’s just leave it at that.’

Stunt became agitated as he spoke of his public image and accused the media of ‘gaslighting’ him.

‘I’m nothing like the man you see portrayed.

‘What I see in the press is a berk, a pratt, I’d like to punch him, then I think ‘Oh my god, it’s me’.

Prosecutors have claimed that Stunt may have been involved in the alleged money laundering scheme because the high profile breakdown of his marriage meant the ‘river of money’ from Miss Ecclestone’s motor sport family was ‘running dry’.

Stunt also addressed his marriage to Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone – telling jurors how he was in love with his then-wife, ‘not her bank account’ as he denied ‘living off’ the wealth of his former spouse.

Earlier, Stunt told the court about a panic attack he suffered at the 2008 Monza Grand Prix when his then father-in-law Bernie Ecclestone told him: ‘James, you’re having a panic attack.’

He said the ordeal saw him become addicted to Valium, an antidepressant, after his panic attack saw the start of the Italian Grand Prix ‘delayed’. 

‘I didn’t know what was happening, and neither did my wife,’ he said. ‘And the Grand Prix doctor just shoved an injection into me.’

Stunt said he was also prescribed with Elvanse, a stimulant similar to Ritalin, after he was diagnosed with ADHD, which he’d suffered with since he was a child. 

‘It’s an amphetamine which would make a normal person have to do the running man to Whitney Houston. But for me it has a calming effect’, he explained.

Stunt also spoke of a family trust fund set up by the Ecclestone family and added ‘that’s the kind of control Bernie Ecclestone had over my marriage’. 

‘You only live once and I like to enjoy myself. I like to live it up,’ he said, responding to questions from his barrister about him ‘playing up’ to his image. Stunt then looked around the court, and admitted: ‘I’m living it down at the moment.’

‘Having your life laid bare like this, we have to examine the good, the bad and the ugly, and I do play up to the public image sometimes, but there’s also insecurity’, he added.

‘People say about me: ‘You must have the smallest penis in the world’ and there must be some truth in that, metaphorically speaking – but I don’t think we need to get a microscope out.’

Stunt later claimed at one stage of his life he was the second biggest gambler and the biggest blackjack player in the world. ‘I might gamble £5million in an evening and lose £400,000. I’m all in, I’m a black and white person.’

He said he was ‘awful with dates and terrible with numbers’ and suffers from ADHD, dyscalcula and dyslexia, and takes Ritalin for the ADHD.

He told the court ‘I am not a glib, arrogant man’ and said that he used humour as a ‘coping mechanism’ to avoid getting angry ‘after hearing some of the slanderous things said in this court about my brother’.

Asked by his barrister Richard Fisher KC whether he had ever sought attention, Stunt told the court: ‘I’m not a Kardashian, I’ve never done anything to achieve fame. 

‘Wow, I have some money, I married a famous man’s daughter. That wasn’t what I wanted, I loved my wife , I didn’t love her bank account.’

He agreed that he was ‘ostentatious but said there was never any maliciousness behind it before adding: ‘I am a giver, not a receiver. If you’ve got it, flaunt it, if you haven’t, well, you can always make more.’

Stunt also said he was very proud of his surname, referencing his grandfather who he said served as a colonel in the Second World War.

‘That’s why every car I have has STUNT on the personalised number plate’, he told the court.

He added: ‘I wanted to develop a positive brand around my name, so I used my surname in the names of my companies.

‘The press have decided to use a different term with a C, which rhymes with a profanity for my surname.’

He added: ‘Even though I may come across as a glammy moron at times, I’m hyperintelligent on certain aspects of business.’

Stunt also spoke of a family trust fund set up by the Ecclestone family and added ‘that’s the kind of control Bernie Ecclestone had over my marriage’. Stunt has denied the allegations of money laundering and forgery.

He recalled a panic attack at the Monza Grand Prix when his then father-in-law Bernie Ecclestone told him ‘James, you’re having a panic attack.

‘I didn’t know what was happening, and neither did my wife,’ he said. ‘And the Grand Prix doctor just shoved an injection into me.’

As part of his testimony, Stunt also said he was a ‘functioning addict’ at times, and the drugs had helped him at various moments including his divorce and the death of his brother Lee in 2016.

The court has heard that Stunt took ‘a very hands-on approach’ as his company became involved in the ‘sophisticated’ £266million money-laundering operation, prosecutors.

Leeds Cloth Hall Court previously heard that hundreds of thousands of pounds at a time was brought in carrier bags and holdalls to Fowler Oldfield in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

Prosecutor Nicholas Clarke KC has said the defendants hid the origin of the money by washing it through a company bank account and using the proceeds to buy gold.

On Wednesday jurors were shown messages between Stunt’s employees and co-defendants Alex Tulloch and Francesca Sota, and staff at Fowler Oldfield. The court heard one message from Tulloch in November 2015 said: ‘James not happy though… James wants to know what his profit is for this week. Concerned about profitability etc.’

The court was told another message from Tulloch in April 2016, when Stunt was living out of the country, said: ‘Ensure that I get updated at least daily on £ in London and Bradford. Gold sold: Lock ins (Scotia), Cookson’s, Dubai. Refining: Any material coming out of the refinery.’

Mr Clarke said this showed Stunt was ‘taking a very hands-on approach even though he was a very long way away at the time’.

Bankrupt former millionaire James Stunt, 40, is being tried with seven others for hiding £266m in funds at a gold dealer

Bankrupt former millionaire James Stunt, 40, is being tried with seven others for hiding £266m in funds at a gold dealer

James Stunt pictured with his then-wife Petra Ecclestone at the Monaco Grand Prix in May 2012

James Stunt pictured with his then-wife Petra Ecclestone at the Monaco Grand Prix in May 2012

He said that Stunt was the owner and director of Stunt & Co but ‘delegated much of the responsibility to others’.

The prosecutor told the court: ‘He was not involved in the day-to-day management of the buying and selling of gold and was not included in most of the correspondence via electronic means.

‘However, emails between others demonstrate that he was very much aware of and authorised what was going on.’

Jurors were told the alleged money laundering then ‘went national’ as one of Fowler Oldfield’s directors, Greg Frankel, became a vice president of Stunt & Co, and Stunt’s premises in London also started receiving cash.

Five defendants from Fowler Oldfield – Greg Frankel, Daniel Rawson, Paul Miller, Heidi Buckler and Haroon ‘Harry’ Rashid – all say the prosecution cannot prove that any of the cash was criminal property.

Stunt and the defendants from his company – Tulloch and Sota – say they ‘don’t know whether it was’, the court has heard.

But prosecutors say it is ‘blindingly obvious this was criminal cash’ and each of the defendants ‘must at the very least have suspected that the source of the money was criminal in origin’.

Jurors were told West Yorkshire Police launched Operation Larkshot to investigate large amounts of cash being credited to the bank account of Fowler Oldfield and collected from three sites – Fowler Oldfield’s own premises, the offices of James Stunt in central London and a new company called Pure Nines in Hatton Garden.

Mr Clarke said substantial amounts of cash were being paid into a bank account of Fowler Oldfield Limited from 2014.

He told jurors they aroused the suspicions of bank staff because ‘they were of such an amount, on a daily basis, as may come from a Premier League football stadium on a match day or similar size venue or event’.

The wider investigation discovered that from January 1, 2014 until September 16, 2016, more than £266million in cash and unknown deposits were paid into the Fowler Oldfield bank account, the court heard.

Buckler, 45, Frankel, 44, Miller, 45, Rashid, 51, Rawson, 45, Sota, 34, Stunt, 40 and Tulloch, 41, all deny money laundering. Stunt and Sota also deny forgery.

The trial continues. 



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