‘Secret Millionaire’ tycoon Tony Banks was today (Tuesday) cleared of assaulting his girlfriend after she claimed she lied to police and made up the allegation against him.
Care home tycoon Banks - a Falkland War veteran who later appeared on Channel 4 show ‘The Secret Millionaire’ after amassing a fortune through his Balhousie Care business - was alleged to have attacked Kimberley Anderson on December 9 last year.
A sheriff has asked prosecutors to investigate Miss Anderson’s evidence - after repeatedly warning her in the witness box that she could be perjuring herself or be admitting wasting police time when she made the allegations.
It emerged during the trial that the pair did not live together at the time of the incident - but have since moved in together.
Banks was accused of attacking Miss Anderson by throwing a mobile phone at her, striking and kicking her on the body and repeatedly seizing her by the hair at his home in Brechin Road, Kirriemuir, last December.
He was further alleged to have repeatedly pulled her to the floor, repeatedly kneeled on her stomach, slapped her on the head, spat on her and seized her by the throat and compressed it, all to her injury.
Banks’s neighbour, Dr William Peterkin, a retired GP aged 73, told how Miss Anderson turned up at his door, barefoot and in her pyjamas, at 10pm on the night of the incident.
He said she appeared “terrified” and had to be comforted by his wife before police were called.
Dr Peterkin added: “She said she had been beaten up.
“I was unhappy - I don’t like hearing about women being assaulted.”
PC Ross McIntyre, 36, was the first police officer on the scene.
He told how he took a detailed statement from Miss Anderson - and noted scratch marks and reddening on her neck.
The officer said: “She was visibly upset when I got there - she was crying.
“She had bruises on her arm but she said they were from a previous incident.”
Both witnesses said Miss Anderson did not appear to be under the influence and said they could not smell alcohol from her.
But when Miss Anderson, 28, took the witness stand she claimed to have been very drunk and said she had lied to officers.
She said: “We had an argument. He said he had been at the cinema alone that day and I accused him of cheating.
“I got angry and stormed out because I was in such a state.”
Miss Anderson - who now lives with Banks at the address of the alleged attack - was repeatedly quizzed by fiscal depute Kirsten Thomson about exactly what happened before she stormed out.
But Anderson, 26 years the millionaire businessman’s junior, insisted there had been no violent attack.
Sheriff Gregor Murray warned her: “We have heard evidence from two people that is very different from what you are giving to me.
“Notwithstanding your relationship with Mr Banks, I expect you to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
“You are digging yourself a very, very, very deep hole.”
But Miss Anderson insisted she had concocted the story - and insisted there had been no assault.
Kirsten Thomson, prosecuting, said: “The Crown intend to lead no further witnesses and no longer seek a conviction.”
Sheriff Murray then ordered Banks to remain in the dock while Miss Anderson was brought back into the court.
He said: “I find it farcical that there was a screen separating you both as Miss Anderson gave evidence.
“Two witnesses gave evidence - a retired GP and a police officer, both of whom were entirely credible and reliable.
“A lady left your house, Mr Banks, in her pyjamas, barefooted and terrified and went to a neighbour alleging you had done something to her.
“Miss Anderson, you left your four-year-old child - the most precious thing in your life - behind you.
“Police took a statement from you and that very clearly fits in with why you were terrified and why you left your son and arrived at Dr Peterkin’s house.
“You have given evidence that you made everything up and the statement was a lie.
“I’m asking the procurator fiscal to look at whether an investigation should be made into your conduct and about your evidence.
“It is deeply unsatisfactory. All I can do is ask the fiscal to investigate further.”
Banks, 54, of Brechin Road, Kirriemuir, denied the charge on summary complaint at Forfar Sheriff Court.
Sheriff Gregor Murray formally found Banks not guilty and dismissed him from the dock.
Mr Banks gave a short statement shortly after leaving Forfar Sheriff Court. He said: “The whole episode has been a very traumatic and upsetting time for all involved. But I am pleased that justice has been done with this ‘not guilty’ verdict. My partner and I have already put this behind us and look forward to continuing with our life together as before.”
The Balhousie Care Group has grown to become Scotland’s largest private care home provider since Banks began the business in Kirriemuir in the early 1990s.
In 2009, the former paratrooper took part in the sixth series of Channel 4’s popular programme ‘The Secret Millionaire’, spending time on a run-down estate in Liverpool and offering support to projects there after the experience.
He returned to the television screen a year later in a BBC documentary entitled From War to Peace which charted the ex-serviceman’s journey to Argentina to return a trumpet taken as a war trophy during the Falklands conflict.
An award-winning entrepreneur and well-known philanthropist supporting causes including Combat Stress and the Stroke Association, Banks was also a high profile figure in the Scottish referendum debate through his key role in the pro-independence Business for Scotland organisation.