‘That morning, when we hit the road, a lady came up by the name of Louella Harrigan and she said, "Regardless, we got to take back our country from Kenneth Bates, and whatever we’re going to do we’re going to march this morning, and we are going to take our country back! This lease must be revoked, and Kenneth Bates must go!”’ – George Malone in ‘A Patriotic Man’.
The business past of current Leeds United chairman Ken Bates has been pored over many times in books and newspapers: the ready-mix concrete business that established his wealth; the controversial collapse of the Irish Trust Bank; his colourful entries into football at Oldham, Chelsea, Partick Thistle and Leeds. But one part of the Bates story has remained opaque. Forty years ago and on the far side of the world, Ken Bates was set fair to make his fortune by developing a tourist and tax haven on the Caribbean islands of Tortola and Anegada, until the venture collapsed and the British government bought him out. The London Times described it as an “embarrassing state of affairs”, and that understatement has characterised the general treatment of the ‘affair’ ever since.
Now, though, thanks to a documentary film made by Andrea and Amanda Wilson and Jahphix TV of Tortola, and research by The Square Ball, a clearer picture has emerged: of the scale of what Bates had proposed for the islands, of the incredible fortune he stood to make, and of the man who inspired his fellow Tortolans to save their islands from Bates: Noel Lloyd.