Leeds East Airport owner, 65, found guilty of assaulting parish council chairman in Yorkshire village

The owner of Leeds East Airport has been found guilty of assaulting the chairman of the local parish council.

Chris Makin, 65, denied assaulting Andrew Mason, 63, by beating during an altercation on Busk Lane in Church Fenton, near Tadcaster, last April.

Yet the businessman was found guilty after a trial at Harrogate Magistrates Court and returned for sentencing on Thursday.

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The court was told that Makin, who bought the former RAF Church Fenton base from the Ministry of Defence around 10 years ago, had privately funded a top KC, but that the barrister was unavailable as he was attending a trial elsewhere.

Chris Makin at Leeds East AirportChris Makin at Leeds East Airport
Chris Makin at Leeds East Airport

Magistrates agreed to adjourn the case for sentencing on April 25 so that he could have representation.

Mr Mason is the chair of Church Fenton Parish Council and well-known in the village, where he volunteers at the local shop.

Makin, of Micklefield, who has a farming background, offers private aviation services at Leeds East Airport and has also opened a restaurant at the site.

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RAF Church Fenton was an important station during World War Two, when fighter aircraft squadrons protecting Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield and Hull from enemy bombing were based there. They played a key role in the Battle of Britain and relics of its wartime operations are designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The site later became a satellite airfield, before closing in 2013.

Parish council chairman Andrew Mason was the victim of Makin's assaultParish council chairman Andrew Mason was the victim of Makin's assault
Parish council chairman Andrew Mason was the victim of Makin's assault

Makin initially applied for a licence to operate commercial passenger and charter flights from the airport, but his request was declined and the business instead operates as a private airfield and flying school.

His company Makin Enterprises’s other plans for the mixed use site include a vehicle storage compound and business units. He has also opened Church Fenton Studios, which has been used for the filming of productions including the ITV period drama Victoria.

Another recent planning application was for a hangar to become a cladding research facility for the testing of construction materials.

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Makin claims to have created over 150 jobs since rescuing the aerodrome from dereliction in 2014. It now hosts events including the Flying Legends air show, an echo of the RAF displays that used to attract over 60,000 spectators to the base when it was operational.