Press release

Jail and director disqualification handed to 71 year old for managing company while disqualified

Keith Ward, his wife Jacqueline Ward, their son Adam Ward and Adam’s wife Meeka were all sentenced at Worcester Crown Court on 6 November 2015, having all previously pleaded guilty to various offences relating to their conduct in the management and running of Gutterfast Ltd.

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The case followed an initial investigation by the Insolvency Service and a full criminal investigation and prosecution by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The offences were officers of under section 13 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986, section 216 of the Insolvency Act 1986 and section 8 of the Accessories an Abettors Act 1861.

The orders made were as follows:

  • Keith William Ward, a disqualified director: 6 months imprisonment and disqualified from being a director for 6 years
  • Adam Ward: 6 months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months. He was further ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and disqualified for 5 years
  • Jacqueline Ward: a 12 month Community Order was made requiring her to complete 50 hours of unpaid work
  • Meeka Ward: a 12 month Community Order involving 100 hours of unpaid work

All parties were also ordered to pay the Victim Surcharge.

The investigation by the Insolvency Service and BIS showed that between 22 July 2011 and 24 April 2012, Keith Ward (71) acted in the management of Gutterfast Limited, whilst subject to a disqualification undertaking of 4 years.

It was also shown that between 12 September 2011 and 24 April 2012, Adam Ward (41) acted in the management of Gutterfast Limited, whilst being subject to a disqualification undertaking. Both men were also shown to have used the prohibited name ‘Gutterfast’ between 23 May 2009 and 24 April 2012. Furthermore, their respective wives Jacqueline Ward (67) and Meeka Ward (31), were shown to have aided and abetted the commission of these offences.

In sentencing all parties, His Honour Judge Juckes QC remarked:

notwithstanding your undertakings both of you continued to act as shadow directors – a flagrant breach of statute.

The Judge stated, that both men, “had been assisted by their wives” in committing the offences.

Glenn Wicks, the officer in charge of the BIS investigation said:

Disqualification orders are made to keep dodgy directors out of companies and to stop innocent creditors being ripped off. The courts clearly see these as very serious offences and age does not prevent offenders being sent to prison.

Notes to editors

Gutterfast Limited (CRO No. 06860654) went in Administration on 24 April 2012 and went into liquidation on 14 March 2013.

All of four family members are of Worcester and their dates of birth are: * Keith William Ward if of Worcester - 24 June 1944. * Jacqueline Anne Ward - 10 July 1948. * Adam Ward – 14 November 1974 * Meeka Ward – 21 September 1974.

A disqualification 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

In addition that person cannot act as an insolvency practitioner and there are many other restrictions are placed on disqualified directors by other regulations.

Disqualification undertakings are the administrative equivalent of a disqualification order but do not involve court proceedings. Further information on director disqualifications and restrictions is available.

BIS’ mission is to build a dynamic and competitive UK economy, in particular by creating the conditions for business success and promoting an open global economy. The Criminal Investigations and Prosecutions team contributes to this aim by taking action to deter fraud and to regulate the market. They investigate and prosecute a range of offences, primarily relating to personal or company insolvencies. Further information about the work of the Criminal Investigations and Prosecutions team is available.

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.

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Published 30 November 2015