VICTOR BASSEY –the man behind the fake company Excelsis Aviation – claimed he was Nigerian in 2009.

Quizzed by The Northern Echo after his proposal to launch a luxury airline taking passengers from Durham Tees Valley (DTV) to London Heathrow had been revealed, the self-styled entrepreneur reluctantly confirmed his nationality, explaining that this was why obtaining Civil Aviation Licence for his firm was proving difficult.

But now that he is facing deportation, Bassey is refusing to reveal his true origins.

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The problem is made worse for the authorities because the police who arrested him were unable to find his passport.

But even if they had found a passport, its authenticity would have been questionable.

In 1989, the conman was fined £1,000 by magistrates at Blackfriars, in central London, after being convicted of five charges of forgery and counterfeiting.

Four years later, Bassey was sentenced to 14 days in prison by magistrates, again in London, for making a false statement to obtain a passport.

Then in 2008, the fraudster appeared before magistrates in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, accused of possessing a false Nigerian passport.

It is thought the case was later thrown out.

It is not even clear if Victor Bassey is even his real name.

Police said in court that he had used at least five aliases over the years, including Victor Omoyele, Howard Victor Jones and Victor Howard Jones.

Several different dates of birth were also used on company documents.

Peter Troy, who runs The Publicist public relations company, holds the honour of being one of the few people ever to be paid by Bassey after he was hired for a short period in early 2009.

He says: “He told me he had a mixed nationality. I can remember America came into the conversation, Nigeria was definitely mentioned and I think he said he had a Scottish father.”

The Scottish link was also mentioned to the media.

Although reluctant to discuss his personal life, Mr Bassey told The Northern Echo that his father was a pilot based in Perth, Scotland, and he had “grown up in the business”.

He claimed he took his pilot’s licence when he was 17, although he stressed he was not a pilot by profession.

“I’m a strategist, a planner – that’s how I like it,” he added.

Lee Scott, former operations manager at DTV, was offered the position of Excelsis operations manager after two meetings with Bassey, but turned it down after becoming concerned about the scheme.

He says the fraudster never confirmed his nationality to him, but did make other claims regarding his past.

“He never mentioned he was Nigerian, but he did say he used to work as a doctor in the States, but got struck off after killing someone.”

Without genuine documentation, it is likely the real Victor Bassey – if that is his correct name – will never be known.

This means the UK could be landed with the aviation fantasist for a while longer.

As one of his victims said of him this week: “He’s a slippery fish”.