A BOOK collector travelled to Southampton from Texas to testify against a Hamp-shire man who he claims duped him.

Basil Boatright III was at Southampton Crown Court yesterday to tell a jury how he paid tens of thousands of dollars to Allan Formhals for books he claimed contained Winston Churchill’s signature.

Mr Boatright paid $43,500 to Formhals, of Milford on Sea, for books containing Churchill’s autograph via eBay, the court heard.

Formhals denies selling books with forged signatures of Churchill, author Robert Louis Stevenson and artist Pablo Picasso between 2009 and 2011.

Prosecutor Simon Edwards said Formhals told Mr Boatright, 53, that the books came from an old couple who cleaned the house of Second World War Spitfire pilot Neville Duke who lived in Milford on Sea.

Mr Boatright said. “I was aware of Churchill’s infatuation with aviation. It [the story] seemed plausible.”

Later the jury were shown papers with copies of signatures of the artist JMW Turner which were seized by police from Formhals’ Keyhaven Road home.

Formhals, 66, also denies two counts of being in possession of articles in the use of fraud.