By Alexis Parr
Last updated at 1:36 AM on 9th October 2011
Lord fraud: Eddie Davenport with girlfriend Monthira Sanan-Ua
She has given it a lot of thought. But Monthira Sanan-Ua, the Thai girlfriend of conman ‘Lord’ Eddie Davenport, has decided – much as she loves him – that eight years is a long time to put your life on hold.
This reality was brutally driven home last week, as she sat in Southwark Crown Court and watched the judge jail her playboy boyfriend for seven years and eight months for his part in a £4.5million global fraud.
She now knows Davenport, 45, was the ‘ringmaster’ of a vast scam in which cash-strapped entrepreneurs were conned into handing over thousands of pounds for ‘due diligence’ checks in return for much-needed investment in their businesses – investment that never materialised.
And she understands the way in which his victims were often left bankrupt, unemployed and with their reputations in ruins. One had a mental breakdown.
For Monthira, 26, the depth of Davenport’s callousness has come as a shock, but life with ‘Fast Eddie’ was, at best, unconventional; at worst, unprincipled and free of all moral restraints.
Monthira has known the self-styled lord for five years and was his partner for the last three. She hosted many of the infamous parties at his elegant London mansion, 33 Portland Place. She cannot claim total innocence yet in her own way she, too, is a victim of Davenport and the double life he led.
‘I still love him but he’s let me down terribly,’ Monthira says. ‘I’m trying to be brave about it but my life will change now without Eddie’s presence. It was a terrible moment when I looked across at him in the dock and saw him get such a long sentence.
‘Eddie smiled at me bravely as if to say “don’t worry” and “sorry” but I know in my heart nothing will be the same again.
‘I can’t believe Eddie is really such a bad person. I am not sure I can wait eight years but that doesn’t stop me loving him or thinking of him as family.’
Monthira’s mother, Panida, ran away to Britain, leaving her Bangkok policeman husband when her daughter was nine. Monthira joined her when she was 14 and decided to stay, leaving school at 16 to work in various West End clubs and bars as a waitress.
Monthira met Davenport when she was living in a grotty council flat near his 102-bedroom mansion and they became nodding acquaintances in the street, which progressed to cups of coffee.
She says: ‘I was wary of Eddie because I heard he was a playboy but we always connected and got on well from the start. Eddie pursued me for two years before I allowed him his first kiss and we started dating. It took a while to trust him but we fell in love.’
It was only when they became boyfriend and girlfriend that Monthira was introduced to the true nature of life behind the polished black door of 33 Portland Place, the former High Commission of Sierra Leone.
Davenport, who organised the Gatecrasher balls of the Eighties, rented the property out for photo shoots and as a film set – Monthira is speaking in the room, indeed sitting on the period sofa, which was used to film the Oscar-winning movie The King’s Speech.
But by night the now dilapidated Thomas Adam mansion, decorated with low reliefs of Greek nymphs, became the backdrop for scenes of sexual decadence and Roman-style debauchery. Monthira says: ‘I knew he had a naughty side and was a naughty boy. But even so, the first time I ended up at an orgy, I was very shocked.
‘The funny thing was it all happened so naturally. I was standing at the bar at 33 Portland Place with Eddie sipping prosecco and it was just a normal cocktail party. Then suddenly I noticed from the corner of my eye a handsome man in a mask slowly undressing a beautiful blonde girl, pulling her halter-neck dress down to reveal her breasts.
‘They didn’t seem to notice or care that anybody else was looking. Eddie and I just carried on talking as if this was normal. And that’s how it was, I sort of got used to it. I saw it all but I didn’t participate, it wasn’t my thing.
According to Monthira, who now works as a nightclub promoter, the orgies were designed for an exclusive crowd of celebrities, aristocrats and establishment figures.
She says: ‘They had all sorts of posh, important people there like judges and financiers. Once I spotted a famous Hollywood actor who is very handsome.
‘I said to him, “I recognise you, you are…” He just smiled enigmatically and said, “No, I’m not.”
Another time Monthira saw another well known London based theatrical star. She says: ‘He was looking a bit spaced out on a really big joint.
‘I met all the A-list stars, everyone. I ended up going to many orgies or “gang bangs” at the house. There were four giant beds pushed together in the morning room.
‘We were sworn to secrecy and most of the guests were wearing masks. Sometimes I would be standing at the bar arranging the bowls of Durex and Viagra when my friend would say to me, “Oh look, there’s the judge and there’s that policeman.”
‘Men would suddenly swap partners and give each other a high five in the middle of having sex with a girl. It was kind of weird. People would lose their underwear in the melee and it was quite dark. I once saw the man we knew as “the Judge” accidentally put on a pair of women’s pants.’
The price of attending was £150 a couple. Single men were not usually allowed in.
Monthira says: ‘At each party there was lots of booze, wine and beer but not much in the way of food. They might have a few smoked salmon canapés and sausage rolls because all that sex made people hungry. It was going on from midnight until six o’clock in the morning when the cleaner would come round and get rid of all the rubbish and all the used condoms.’
Portland Place was not so much a home as a stage set where Davenport could play out his role as a ‘true English gentleman’. He made great play of this on his website, posing for pictures with everyone from Victoria Beckham to Prince Albert of Monaco.
Monthira says: ‘Whatever celebrity was there for whatever purpose, Eddie always liked to meet them. I saw everybody from Paris Hilton, Hugh Grant, Pete Doherty, Kate Moss, Russell Brand and Colin Farrell.’
There were lots of different sorts of events at the house ranging from glossy magazine photo shoots to film and TV productions.
‘All sorts passed though our door. I remember James Blunt, Sarah Ferguson, Mick Jagger, Juliette Lewis,Victoria Beckham, Michael Caine, Hugh Lawrie, Vivienne Westwood, Victoria Silvstedt, Jordan, Mark Ronson, there were so many.’
There is no suggestion that any of those she named took part in Davenport’s sex parties.
Monthira insists that, in private, Davenport was a very different man again – quieter with a caring, considerate side. ‘All the time, in between all the parties, Eddie and I were leading a cosy little domestic life, going out to dinner at local restaurants.
‘And he was kind to me, bringing me tea in bed if I felt unwell.’
She insists she did not know his title was a sham, despite having met his mother, Jean, 78, who lives in a respectable Victorian house near London’s Hurlingham Club in Fulham.
She is reportedly devastated by her son’s conviction and is said to have put up £1m – the value of her London home – as bail surety. Davenport’s father, Ormus, died in 2002.
Monthira says: ‘I don’t know anything about him not being a real Lord. He certainly spoke and acted like one.
‘I have met Eddie’s mum a few times but he is private about things like that and I don’t think he would like me to speak about her. She’s all right.’
Nor did Monthira know about the fraud Davenport was orchestrating along with his lieutenants, Peter Riley and Borge Andersen and which stretched as far afield as India, Canada and Dubai. She does admit to realising that his business might be in trouble.
Monthira says: ‘He started getting a little moody. I’m not like English girls so I knew not to bother him or talk about business and make him feel bad. When he got like that, I just knew to stay out of his way.’
Then, 18 months ago, police turned up on the doorstop and arrested Davenport. This was followed by a series of raids from the Serious Fraud Office.
Monthira was there for Davenport throughout. And she has already been to see him in Wandsworth prison.
I noticed from the corner of my eye a handsome man in a mask slowly undressing a beautiful blonde girl, pulling her halter-neck dress down to reveal her breasts
- Monthira Sanan-Ua
She says: ‘I went to see him last week. He was wearing a pink T-shirt and jeans with his favourite Vivienne Westwood belt with its big skull buckle.
‘We met in the prison canteen and were able to kiss, hug and hold hands. It didn’t feel like he was in a jail.
‘Eddie was cheerful. He says he is a hero in prison because of all the TV coverage showing that he knows all the stars like Keira Knightley.
He likes telling them stories.’
Last night, Davenport issued a press statement exclusively to The Mail on Sunday insisting he will appeal, but there is no knowing what the future holds for him or Monthira.
She says: ‘I’m taking each day at a time. But I earn my own money and I like to be financially independent.
‘Eddie spent many months preparing me for this. I don’t want to be too sad and I do want to support him.
‘I told him, “Whatever happens, I will always be here for you. I won’t let you down”.’
But Monthira smiles sadly as she adds: ‘I didn’t actually say I will stay faithful and wait eight years. I can’t do that.’
He wanted to cheat me out of every last penny of my savings
by POLLY DUNBAR
Handed over £5,000: Designer Elizabeth Emanuel was one of Davenport’s victims
Among those most delighted by ‘Fast Eddie’ Davenport’s downfall is Elizabeth Emanuel, the designer who created Princess Diana’s wedding dress.
After going to him for investment in her business, she was left on the brink of bankruptcy.
‘Davenport fully deserves his sentence,’ she says. ‘He left me feeling almost as though I had been assaulted. It was such a shock to be lied to and conned in the way he did it. He knew how badly I needed funds but he wanted to screw me out of every last penny I had.’
Elizabeth became embroiled in Davenport’s scam in 2008, when she was in financial turmoil. Although she was still making couture dresses for celebrities including Charlize Theron, Helena Bonham Carter and Nancy Dell’Olio, she had lost the right to trade under her own name, making it impossible for her to make money through licensing.
She badly needed investment to build her company, Art Of Being, which would enable her to create more profitable ready-to-wear collections. She knew that Davenport had invested in shoe designer Patrick Cox and approached him to ask if he was interested in doing the same for her.
At her first meeting on June 17 with Davenport and Peter Riley from Gresham Ltd, the company which handled his investments, they told her they were keen.
‘With hindsight, I should have been suspicious, because there was something not quite right about the whole set-up,’ she says.
‘We met in a building close to his mansion in Portland Place, but it was a tiny, shabby office with wallpaper peeling off the walls and a cheap-looking plastic sign saying “Patrick Cox”.
‘Davenport was a very strange yellow colour, almost as though he had jaundice. I’d checked out his website and it surprised me; it was full of boasts about his money and title, his properties in Monaco and flash cars.
‘Normally, in my experience, people who were genuinely titled wouldn’t behave like that. But I was desperate, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt.’
In an email dated June 30, seen by The Mail on Sunday, Riley assured Elizabeth that ‘after initial research Edward has decided to go forward with investing in your business subject to contract and independent verification of the facts and assumptions’.
Next, she was sent a Memorandum of Agreement by Borge Andersen, the senior loans officer at Gresham. It proposed a deal whereby Elizabeth would surrender 65 per cent of her company in return for a £1.5m investment.
It stated that before this investment could be made, ‘due diligence’ would be carried out at a cost of £20,000, adding: ‘Both parties shall share equally in this cost.’
‘My entire company records only amounted to one lever-arch file and two envelope folders of documents, so I couldn’t understand how it could cost £20,000 to go through,’ she says.
I was devastated. I know I was naive, but I was left high and dry. It’s a miracle I didn’t go under.
‘I couldn’t afford £10,000 but I scraped together £5,000 on the assurance that the investment was imminent and I would get it back.’
Gresham’s interest appeared genuine. Executives visited Elizabeth’s studio several times, and on their instruction she put together detailed plans of how Art Of Being could grow from a struggling couture studio to a commercial brand. At every turn, her ideas were met with great enthusiasm.
In emails from Gresham, Andersen went as far as expressing his desire for her to make ‘business clothes’ as part of her first ready-to-wear collection.
However, no investment appeared and by September, Elizabeth was in desperate need of funds.
‘Borge wanted me to write to the bank authorising them to have control over the Art Of Being account because they would arrange to have funds put into it,’ she says.
‘I arranged a meeting with the bank manager for me, Peter and Borge.
‘It transpired they were asking the bank to extend a loan to me and offering to act as guarantors and to become joint signaturees on the account.
‘The bank manager saw through them and rejected the request.’
Shortly afterwards, Elizabeth received a call from Andersen saying that Davenport would not be putting any money into her account, nor return her £5,000. A few days later, she was told that Davenport would not be investing funds in her company.
‘Edward wouldn’t return my calls and Borge said he couldn’t help,’ she says. ‘I was devastated.
‘I know I was naive, but I was left high and dry. It’s a miracle I didn’t go under.’
Elizabeth added: ‘My loss was small by comparison to many others, but in relative terms it was huge, because it was the last of my savings.
‘I’ve learned that when you’re vulnerable, you attract people who want to take advantage.
‘A lot of people think I’m mad to carry on, but I won’t give up on my business until my last breath because I love making dresses.
‘I have a professional team looking for investment for me and, with the renewed interest created by the Royal Wedding, I’m hoping I will finally find someone trustworthy.’