Exclusive: Jail shame of Britain's Got Talent finalist who lied about US cancer treatment in bid to dodge tax fraud probe

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A former Britain's Got Talent finalist was jailed yesterday after using a sham horse trading business to carry out a £280,000 fraud.

Opera singer Christopher Stone, who reached the 2010 final of the ITV talent show, claimed to have spent £1.4m on horses, riding equipment and vet bills in a bid to generate VAT repayments for Otley-based SS Equestrian.

And when HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators began to close in, he lied about travelling to the USA to be treated for terminal cancer.

Read more: Man who set up sham horse trading business is jailed over £280,000 tax fraud

Stone, 35, of Albany Avenue, Harrogate, was described as an accountant when he appeared on Britain's Got Talent.

The singer won praise from judges, with Amanda Holden saying: "Christopher could lead any show in the West End or in the world!"

Head judge Simon Cowell was also impressed, telling Stone: "You are a naturally gifted, great singer."

The singer made it all the way through to the live final when he performed Somewhere from the musical West Side Story.

He went on to perform on the Britain's Got Talent tour and switched on the Christmas lights in Harrogate in 2010.

Stone also joined former X-Factor winner Shane Ward that year for the Christmas lights switch on in Leeds.

Classique, an event and entertainment company with which Stone is registered, details performances in Opera North productions as well as in shows staged at Manchester Opera House and Buxton Opera House.

Its website says: "Christopher Stone is a naturally gifted, great tenor from the final of Britain's Got Talent 2010 who is now very busy with performances around the world.

"Christopher was invited to go on the live BGT tour and since leaving the show he has remained in constant demand and is quickly becoming known on a Global scale."

It details how Stone, who is fluent in French, German and Italian, previously trained at both Chetham's School of Music and The Guildhall School of Music and Drama.