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Industry

Book thrown at print firms by court

The Insolvency Service has announced in a press release that they have ‘thrown the book’ at printers who failed to complete contracts.

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The Insolvency Service has had John’s print firms wound up

The printers they refer to are the couple behind a string of companies and trading names of the print farmer Neill Malcolm Stuart John and his partner Clair Hunnisett from Barry in Wales, although they do not actually name them in their press release. The service named them as ‘London printers’ due to their address being registered in the capital, although they have never owned premises there or even owned any printing equipment but farmed the work out.

The companies named were High Quality Books Ltd, formerly known as Printed Books Limited, and We Print Books Ltd, formerly known as Offset Printers Limited, and were wound up in the public interest in the Manchester District Registry on October 18th, 2018. The Official Receiver has now been appointed as the Liquidator.

Those victims are sighing with relief that finally justice has taken its course, but few believe it is the last we shall hear of John

Readers of this publication will be familiar with the stories relating to ‘the Bonnie and Clyde of the print industry’ who left scores of self-publishers, businesses, charities and printers out of pocket to the tune of many thousands of pounds. Those victims are sighing with relief that finally justice has taken its course, but few believe it is the last we shall hear of John. As one anonymous victim says: “This ‘bandit’ has done this for fifteen plus years, tomorrow he'll be up and running under another name.”

Print Monthly published an open letter to the authorities earlier this year copying in the Insolvency Service giving details of John’s activities. They said they were unable to gather the full extent of John’s activities as he didn’t cooperate with them. John also changed the names of the companies in question to High Quality Books Ltd and We Print Books Ltd just two days before the courts shut them down.

Through the courts, thankfully we have been able to put a stop to these rogue printers

District Judge Khan found in his judgement that both companies had traded with a lack of transparency, as well as a lack of commercial probity in that they made misrepresentations to customers, failed to handle customer data appropriately and failed to maintain and/or deliver up accounting records or co-operate with investigators.
Irshard Mohammed, Chief Investigator for the Insolvency Service, says: “Through the courts, thankfully we have been able to put a stop to these rogue printers. They used deceitful tactics to attract customers, demanded up-front payments and when customers complained having failed to receive their orders, the printers either blamed the customer or hid behind their terms and conditions. These winding-up proceedings should serve as a clear warning to dishonest companies that we will use the full weight of our powers and shut down businesses that operate unscrupulously.”

Clearly everyone in the printing industry hopes this will be an end to the matter but few believe it is the last we shall hear of John. Indeed, at the time of going to press an online search for www.paperbackprinter.co.uk brings up one of John’s sites. With victims losing an average of £5,000 and printers around double that, the amounts paid to John’s firms in the last two years could be in the region of half a million pounds.

Were you caught out by John’s business deals? Email your experiences and comments to harry@linkpublishing.co.uk or call me on Tel: 0117 9805 040 – or follow me on Twitter and join in the debate.


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