In a two-year period, the pair from Congleton, Cheshire, secured more than £1.7 million from businesses who were led to believe they were investing in books and DVDs about substance abuse in return for advertising in the books.
Child Protection UK Limited was incorporated in 2005 with Paula Ann Carson, nee Kasser, appointed a director at the same time.
Paula Carson would target businesses to sponsor the production and distribution of educational materials, including books and DVDs, concerning the dangers of drug and alcohol use to schools across the UK.
However, complaints were made and the Insolvency Service investigated Child Protection UK’s practices, culminating in a winding-up petition presented against the company in April 2010 by the Secretary of State for BEIS.
Paula Carson negotiated with the Secretary of State and got the winding up petition dismissed in November 2010 by signing an undertaking committing her to amend the company’s trading practices.
Soon after, Paula met Paul Douglas Carson in 2011 and he became involved in the management of Child Protection UK. The pair then incorporated a second company also in 2011, called Child Guidance UK.
The two companies ran in tandem from the same office and followed exactly the same business model. They would target small businesses to sponsor the production and delivery of books and DVDs to schools and in return, the sponsor’s business would receive free advertising in the books. Businesses would then be targeted again for repeat business.
However, the Insolvency Service received fresh complaints about Child Protection UK, resulting in further investigations into the practices of both Child Protection UK and Child Guidance UK.
Investigators discovered that both companies followed a standard procedure for sales calls, where scripts contained potentially misleading statements which may have led customers believing Child Protection UK and Child Guidance UK were charities, worked on behalf of charities or were running a legitimate child safety campaign.
Further enquiries found that the trading practices of Child Protection UK and Child Guidance UK did not make clear to customers about their cancellation rights and while materials were sent out, there was no evidence that they either complied with national curriculum requirements or were of value to the schools who received them.
Between April 2015 and December 2017, Child Protection UK received £871,989 from its sponsors, while Child Guidance UK received £840,017 from its sponsors between April 2015 and December 2017.
Both companies were wound-up in the public interest in April 2018 after Paula Carson failed to fully adhere to the undertaking she had previously agreed with the courts.
And for their misconduct in the companies, both Paula and Paul Carson had their disqualification undertakings accepted by the Secretary of State on 8 January 2019. Paula Carson is disqualified from being a company director for 11 years, while Paul Carson is banned for nine years.
Effective from 29 January 2019 the pair are banned from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.
Ken Beasley, Official Receiver, said:
Both Paula and Paul Carson purposefully targeted small businesses to part with their cash with the promise of helping to produce educational materials for schools, with the added bonus of advertising space. However, customers were duped as they failed to realise the two companies were not charities, the materials didn’t comply with national curriculum requirements and very few schools found the materials of any value.
20 years is a significant amount of time for the Carsons to be prevented from running companies and we want to remind businesses to be wary of any calls out of the blue asking to sponsor booklets, diaries or wall planners.
Notes to editors
Paula Carson is of Congleton, Cheshire and her date of birth is February 1972.
Paul Carson is of Congleton, Cheshire and his date of birth is May 1970.
Child Protection UK Limited (05346299). Paula Carson was appointed a director on 28 January 2005 and Paul Carson was appointed a director on 28 February 2012.
Child Guidance UK Limited (07750557). Paul Carson and Paula Carson were appointed directors on 24 August 2011.
A disqualification undertaking/order has the effect that without specific permission of a court, a person with a disqualification cannot:
- act as a director of a company
- take part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation or management of a company or limited liability partnership
- be a receiver of a company’s property
Disqualification undertakings are the administrative equivalent of a disqualification order but do not involve court proceedings.
Persons subject to a disqualification order are bound by a range of other restrictions.
The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime, investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. It may also use powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK. In addition, the agency authorises and regulates the insolvency profession, deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures, assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees, provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice.
Further information about the work of the Insolvency Service, and how to complain about financial misconduct, is available.
You can also follow the Insolvency Service on: