A CONVICTED fraudster from York who is facing extradition to Spain over claims he was part of an organised crime gang has told a court he was actually working for the Spanish intelligence service.

Paul Blanchard, 74, of Fulford, allegedly acted as a financial adviser for criminals in Tenerife.

A European Arrest Warrant was issued for his arrest in April 2018 and he appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today (Tuesday) to challenge extradition, claiming the warrant was “invalid”.

Blanchard, who was jailed in 2008 over a multimillion-pound fraud, claims he was feeding intelligence to Spanish officials and “feared being assassinated” as a result.

It is alleged he was a financial adviser for a criminal organisation operating in Tenerife between 1999 and 2001.

The court heard the group was led by Lebanese-born Mohamed Derbah, who allegedly laundered money through timeshare sales and fraudulent holiday packages.

Blanchard, who at the time was a corporate consultant specialising in offshore services, claims Mr Derbah was one of his clients.

He said when he became aware of Mr Derbah’s alleged unlawful activities he went to the police with the information.

He told the court that Scotland Yard put him in touch with a Spanish intelligence officer in Madrid.

Blanchard claims he met with Spanish intelligence officers in their Madrid headquarters where he agreed to be a witness for their investigation into Mr Derbah.

He said he gave Spanish police evidence including a 20kg package of documents sent from the UK.

Phone calls covertly recorded by Blanchard between himself and Spanish police officers were also played to the court.

Blanchard said the police had concerns for his safety and, during one of his visits to Tenerife, they provided him with security, the court heard.

When asked what they were concerned about, Blanchard said: “Of getting assassinated by Derbah’s henchmen because he knows I am co-operating with police.”

Mark Summers QC, who is representing Blanchard, said the warrant for his arrest was “invalid”.

“(It is) so obviously and outrageously defective,” he told the court.

The hearing before Judge Ikram continues.