Bodyguard fined £2k for summons
CELEBRITY bodyguard Matt Fiddes has been ordered to pay nearly £2,000 in fines and costs after he issued a bogus summons during a bitter divorce battle.
Fiddes, a former minder of the late Michael Jackson, picked up the blank summons form from Barnstaple County Court and served it on a friend of his wife.
The form was not genuine because it had not been signed by a judge or stamped with the court's official seal, Exeter Crown Court was told.
Fiddes, 33, is an internationally-renowned businessman who franchises a network of martial arts gyms.
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He had close contacts with the Jackson family before and after the death of his friend Michael Jackson.
He was taken to court accused of the rare charge of issuing a fake summons to Nigel Griffiths, in which he sought to find out information in connection to his divorce.
Fiddes, of Hunters Moon, Barnstaple, admitted the charge that "between January 26 and February 9 2012, you falsely pretended to act under the authority of the court in that you caused to be delivered to Nigel Griffiths papers which falsely purported to be a summons of the country court, knowing it to be false". He was fined £750 with £1,200 costs by Judge Francis Gilbert, QC.
The judge said the costs had been increased by Fiddes' initial attempts to deny the offence.
He told him the offence had stood little chance of success because the summons did not carry the official stamp which appears on all official County Court documents.
The judge had already indicated at an earlier hearing that he was not considering a prison sentence.
Janice Eagles, for the prosecution, said Fiddes had picked up the blank summons form while visiting Barnstaple County Court and filled it in himself before serving it on Mr Griffiths.
He should have submitted it to the court where it would have been needed to have been signed by a judge and stamped before it became valid.
He had been seeking information which he hoped would be useful in his divorce proceedings.
Richard Crabb, for the defence, urged the judge to follow the recommendations of a probation pre-sentence report which proposed a financial penalty or community sentence.
Mr Crabb told an earlier hearing: "My client is a successful businessman who is extremely concerned about losing his liberty.
"This offence arose at a time when he was acting in person in divorce proceedings."
Fiddes has been a bodyguard and personal trainer to a string of celebrities including the Jacksons and Peter Andre.