Friday, 22 April 2011 06:00

Wheatcroft - Tiger Tank Legal Statement

    Kevin Wheatcroft has instructed us, his lawyers, to prepare this statement in answer to a number of wildly inaccurate and defamatory statements which have appeared on various sites in the last 12-24 months.

     

    Statement of Kevin Wheatcroft – April 2011
    INTRODUCTION

    Kevin Wheatcroft has instructed us, his lawyers, to prepare this statement in
    answer to a number of wildly inaccurate and defamatory statements which have
    appeared on various sites in the last 12-24 months. Kevin Wheatcroft has so far
    refrained from making any comments in reply to the many unfounded allegations.
    However, as the posting of persistently inaccurate information and allegations
    continues particularly after publication of documents relating to a trial in Sweden
    he has given us instructions to prepare this statement.
    Also he will establish an internet mail address for a period of seven days from
    today’s date. He will reply to any reasonable questions arising from this statement
    or the facts giving rise to it.

    The allegations relate to the circumstances in which a Tiger Tank came into his
    possession and also relate to the circumstances in which an engine and gear box
    formerly in a museum in Sweden came into his possession.

    This statement is intended, first, to set the record straight so that all concerned
    may know the true circumstances leading to the items coming into his possession.
    It is also the intention of this statement to put an end to the substantial malicious
    and erroneous speculation that appears on the various websites. Having taken this
    step of publishing full particulars of his involvement and offering to answer any
    reasonable questions arising from this statement, if further unfounded allegations
    are repeated he will take action as necessary to protect his reputation including
    action against individuals, internet service providers and internet forums who
    permit publication of defamatory and abusive material.

    WHEATCROFT COLLECTION
    Kevin Wheatcroft is a reputable business man with an interest in the collection and
    restoration to a usable condition of World War II military equipment principally
    tanks. His collection is extensive and well known. It is a private collection but
    illustrations of items that can be found in the collection are given at website
    www.wheatcroftcollection.com. The collection is entirely legitimate. Kevin
    Wheatcroft does not and will not engage in any unlawful activity to procure any of
    his collection. Any suggestion that he has obtained improperly any item in the
    collection is false and defamatory.

    THIRD PARTY DEALINGS

    Because of his reputation as a collector he receives invitations to purchase items
    from various sources that will supposedly enhance his collection. If Mr Wheatcroft
    has any doubt about the integrity of the person offering items or the integrity of
    the item itself he will not deal with that person nor will he acquire the item on
    offer. However from time to time notwithstanding his best endeavours to satisfy
    himself of the integrity of the people with whom he comes in contact there are or
    there emerge facts which were previously unknown that cast doubt on the integrity
    of the transaction.

    ENGINE AND GEAR BOX
    Insofar as the engine and gear box is concerned Kevin Wheatcroft was approached
    by Daniel Misik in 2004 when Mr Misik offered a Maybach engine to him. Mr
    Wheatcroft agreed to make the purchase and the Maybach engine is now part of his
    collection. There was never any suggestion that the transaction undertaken with
    Mr Misik on that occasion was anything other than lawful.
    On a later occasion Daniel Misik again approached Kevin Wheatcroft with the offer
    of an engine and gear box then on display by a Swedish museum. He was told the
    items were available in exchange for other display items. In view of the previous
    experience with Mr Wheatcroft in dealing with Mr Misik at the time of first contact
    he had no reason to believe that there was anything wrong with the transaction. It
    only later turned out that the circumstances whereby Mr Misik was in a position to
    offer the engine and gear box were unlawful.

    Kevin Wheatcroft accepted the offer and in due course took possession of the
    engine and gear box. The first time he was aware of anything untoward with these
    items was when his home was raided by the police early one morning. He was
    accused of theft by the police. He and his family were shocked by the unfounded
    allegation. When the full nature of the transaction was explained to him he
    immediately offered to return the items to the museum and he co-operated fully
    with the police so that criminal proceedings could be brought against Mr Misik. No
    allegations of wrong doing were ever made against Mr Wheatcroft nor have
    proceedings ever been brought against him. He is aware that court papers relating
    to the prosecution are circulating on the internet. He has not authorised the
    publication of any documents but it is manifest from these documents that he was
    not engaged in any unlawful activity nor has he sought to cause any harm to any
    person in relation to the acquisition of these articles.

    TIGER TANKS AND THE US ARMY

    The second series of emails relates to his interest in a Tiger Tank.
    There is confusion and consequently inaccurate information circulating regarding
    the tank. The items now in his possession do not constitute a complete tank. They
    were held in a German museum. Its curator is well known to Kevin Wheatcroft. He
    was approached by the curator of a US museum to ask for help in retrieving three
    tanks from various German museums as the German museums were uncooperative
    in returning them to America. Kevin Wheatcroft agreed to rescue the three tanks in
    question and deliver them to the UK, where he was to take over control. The
    vehicles were to remain in the Wheatcroft Collection for an unspecified time for
    the purposes of restoring them. Sadly the restoration work did not take place
    because the American museum would not agree to a contract for the work. The
    tanks were recovered in accordance with the arrangement with the American
    museum over 10 years ago. All shipping and movement documents are in Mr
    Wheatcrofts possession.

    The American Army has indicated that it would like to recover possession of the
    parts and other items in the collection. Mr Wheatcroft has not refused to return
    the tank but not unreasonably, he has asked that all his expenses incurred in
    connection with restoration and removal to the UK be reimbursed. He has offered
    to retain the items for the purposes of making a replica and restoring an original.
    So far the US Army has not made any further response to these proposals. It is
    entirely erroneous to suggest Mr Wheatcroft has refused to return the items. It is
    for the US Army to decide how it wishes to proceed.

    FUTURE ACTION

    The continued repetition of inaccurate information is damaging to Mr Wheatcroft’s
    reputation and must cease if legal action is to be avoided.
    Some of the unreasoned and unreasoning postings indicate that the authors have no
    interest in understanding the truth of the situation but only an interest in
    publishing defamatory and abusive statements about Mr Wheatcroft. The authors
    of the postings are all warned that further repetition of their actions will have
    grave consequences.

    As stated earlier Mr Wheatcroft is prepared to answer any reasonable questions
    emailed to wheatcroftquestions@gmail.com in the course of the next 7 days (the 7
    day period for questions to be put is 21 – 28 April 2011 – questions received after 28
    April 2011 will not be answered). Mr Wheatcroft will require a period of 14 days to
    answer any reasonable questions received. Thereafter any repetition of the
    defamatory remarks made on the websites will result in action. This statement has
    been sent to the internet forums responsible for hosting defamatory content on
    blog sites.

    12 comments

    • Saturday, 25 February 2012 03:15 posted by Martin C.

      Moral Aspects: In the USA it is almost always about money and politics. In the world of the amateur one does what one can afford to do to see things made right, even if one has to find creative 'work-arounds' to import laws to get a Tiger I into a safe storage site. Sometime laws are not just or simply are too obstructive to good intentions.

      Until that few amateurs began to amass and truly conserve historic armor nobody in the US government seemed to care. They cut many irreplaceable artifacts open, covering them with mesh so that the elements could accelerate their decay outdoors. I was mystified to see this at Aberdeen PG. Until the US can demonstrate they really have a budget allocation with a plan to professionally restore then safely conserve items like the Tiger I, I say let Mr. Wheatcroft store and study them - he seems to appreciate them most so far. I only wish he could afford to show them in a safe museum setting for the public. Someday, possibly not until after Mr. Wheatcroft and his like pass away, the US may develop the appreciation and budget priority to justify getting back the Tiger.

      Legal Aspects: This sounds as though people in the US who were responsible for the Tiger I are too embarrassed to make a big deal about it. If those in authority in the US who allowed the Tiger I to leave the post did so without a proper agreement and other documentation then they should be prosecuted. On the other hand Mr. Wheatcroft should be able to show some written authorization to do what he did (import, possession, etc.); if he did any work or expended effort without a written contract then the US taxpayer should say "thank you for donating your services for a good cause; hope the study helped you too". Those in the UK who regulate imports should be concerned about how an individual comes to possess that AFV, One thing is for sure though, time has probably been on the side of that Tiger I.

    • Thursday, 02 February 2012 23:41 posted by HistoryBuff

      I think we should all look to the incompentency of the US Army Ordnance Museum's curator at the time to entertain allowing the Tiger to be shipped out of the country...an egregious act. The Museum was run into the ground for many years, artifacts rusting outside in the elements, until they finally realized they stand to lose everything. For example: V2 display GONE, Nebelwerfer display: GONE, and not surprising, the Tiger 1 stolen right under their noses. Now they have moved the display to Ft Lee, thankfully and restoration is underway...but look how long it took! Irresponsible is too kind a word.

    • Monday, 08 August 2011 19:22 posted by Roy

      As an American citizen I would like to see the Tiger I that belongs to the U.S. Army returned. Mr. Wheatcroft "VOLUNTEERED" to rescue from the German Museums for the U.S. Army. Mr. Wheatcroft has performed a valuable service to the American people by his voluntary sacrifice to retrieve the Tiger I from the clutches of the German Museums. The agreement he made was to be able to create a reproduction and restore the original. He has gained this valuable knowledge needed for his own use in the period he has had the Tiger. This should be compensation enough.

    • Monday, 02 May 2011 22:16 posted by alastair mcmurray

      It's nice to see it all cleared up, now following on from that discovery channel documentary a couple of years ago...when are we all going to see that Panther rolling into the Tankfest arena?

    • Sunday, 24 April 2011 20:35 posted by les hearn

      i have had the great pleasure of seing mr wheatcrofts collection
      ..he had no idea who i was at the time and probably not now
      but he was kind enough to let me and a friend see the collection
      this i see as a tru honest person who has nothing to hide..
      good on him to keep the historic items in good condition ..
      not like many of the museums in england that just let them rot in the open air
      he is not out to make money out of his collection ..not like some i know

    • Sunday, 24 April 2011 12:09 posted by Jon Heyworth

      Mr Wheatcroft once loaned me, gratis, an M4A1 76mm W VVSS Sherman tank and allowed me to take it to France !

      Mr Wheatcroft stayed at home, and watched his Sherman vanish with me into the sunset, his only rider was :

      " Enjoy, but If you blow the engine up, I'd like it fixed !! "

      I wonder how many others would be so trusting and generous ??

      In my opinion, Mr. Wheatcroft has done more for the cause of historical restoration than many museums and governments.

    • Sunday, 24 April 2011 08:50 posted by Chris Collins

      To David,

      how do you feel about the public collections that are also kept from view, most public museums only display a fraction of the total collection? filled with items sent by well meaning relatives that will never see the light of day? or public collections left to rot through neglect like so much scrap metal? The Aberdeen proving ground comes to mind (frankly criminal neglect)
      If individuals wish to preserve sgnificant items using their own resources, then good luck to them.
      My only concern with private collectors obtaining through less than savoury means vehicles and other artifacts from old battlefields without proper internment of any remains that may be found or a recording of the site.

    • Saturday, 23 April 2011 13:08 posted by David

      I have a real problem with private individuals being allowed to amass important collections like this and then keep them out of public view. While the collectors are definitely doing us a service by keeping the equipment from rusting away, I still think their collections need to be open to the public. These items, like great works of art, are the common heritage of all mankind and should not be hoarded and hidden away in private residences. That might also help take some of the public heat off.

    • Friday, 22 April 2011 16:19 posted by Robert

      I don't care who has them, or how they got/get them, as long as the Tiger(s) are preserved. Kudos to Mr. Wheatcroft for his efforts.

      As an American, I'd love to see one at a museum here in the States...I tried to see the Bovington Tiger here at Aberdeen a few years ago, but it had been sent away for restoration and/or repairs; I had to make-due by going to the Patton Museum to see the King Tiger, instead.

      My beef has been with the US Govt powers-that-be, as they don't seem too keen on spending any monies on needed restorations. The many pieces of rare equipment at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds were in sad need of care, and there didn't seem to be any desire to preserve them in an indoor environment, like the Patton Museum has done with it's equipment.

      Hopefully, the move to Fort Lee this year (and the promise of indoor display) will be just what is needed to preserve these machines for future generations to learn from, and enjoy.

    • Friday, 22 April 2011 09:05 posted by Von F

      I never had any doubt about Mr. Wheatcroft or his methods.

      I hope that someday I shall be able to see the collection in a museum somewhere.

      I hope the wild allegations about Mr Wheatcroft come to an end now.

    • Friday, 22 April 2011 09:05 posted by Von F

      I never had any doubt about Mr. Wheatcroft or his methods.

      I hope that someday I shall be able to see the collection in a museum somewhere.

      I hope the wild allegations about Mr Wheatcroft come to an end now.

    • Friday, 22 April 2011 08:06 posted by Jack

      Folks - if you are members of forums or blogs then I suggest that you post the link up to this article. It will help to ensure that other members of forums and their Admins to beaware of the content and comments on their forums.

      Best wishes,

      JB.

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