Press release

Page closed on company that misled businesses to advertise in magazines

Spencer Farley Ltd, a Deeside-based company which made misleading and unfounded statements to induce businesses to place advertisements in its magazines, has been wound-up in the High Court.

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The winding up follows an investigation by the Insolvency Service.

The company produced four magazines with military-related content: ‘Red Alert’, ‘In Force’, ‘The Informer’ and ‘Engage’. The magazines were funded by the sale of advertising space to small businesses and were distributed free of charge.

The investigation found that the company made misleading statements to customers by stating or implying that the company was affiliated to the armed forces when, in fact, there was no such relationship. Information provided by customers during the investigation demonstrated that the company’s telesales staff had falsely stated or implied that:

  • the company was calling on behalf of the military
  • the company produced the armed forces magazine
  • all company personnel were ex-army and affiliated to the Ministry of Defence when, in fact, the company’s staff had no military connections
  • the magazines were distributed to all army units and Ministry of Defence sites when, in fact, the magazines were sent unsolicited to a limited number of military bases and to other organisations such as tourist information offices, shopping centres and airports
  • the company was raising monies for military charities and / or helping ex-serviceman and the families of armed forces personnel

In addition numerous customers complained that they had been pressed for payment for advertisements that they had not agreed to.

Financial statements filed by the company show it to have received an income in excess of £1.1m from the sale of advertisements during the period 1 October 2013 to 31 January 2016. The overwhelming majority of this was applied to the benefit of the company’s directors and personnel and relatively little was spent on production and distribution of the magazines. The company was unable to produce records to verify cash payments of £116,582 to two sales representatives who were said to have left the company almost immediately after the investigation began.

Commenting on the case, Colin Cronin, Investigation Supervisor with the Insolvency Service, said:

In its telesales calls and on its website Spencer Farley Ltd used terminology such as ‘campaign’, ‘raise awareness’ and ‘support’ to mislead customers into believing that it was raising funds on behalf of or in support of the armed forces. In fact, the overwhelming majority of funds raised were paid directly to the company’s directors and telesales staff instead of being applied to any good cause.

The Insolvency Service will take firm action against companies which prey on the charitable nature of small businesses in this way.

I would urge any business which is contacted by cold-call and asked to support the military to make full enquiry into the service being offered before agreeing to advertise.

Notes to editors:

Spencer Farley Ltd – company registration number 07381881 - was incorporated on 20 September 2010. The company’s registered office is at 95 Greendale Road, Port Sunlight, Wirral, Merseyside CH62 4XE. The company’s contact address as stated on its website was at Suite 337, 30 The Downs, Altrincham WA14 2PX. Its trading address was at Unit 9, Old Marsh Farm Barns, Welsh Road, Deeside, CH5 2LY.

The petition to wind-up Spencer Farley Ltd was presented under s124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 on 27 September 2016. The company was wound up on 22 November 2016 and the Official Receiver has been appointed as liquidator.

Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, uses powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Further information about live company investigations is available.

The Insolvency Service, an executive agency sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), administers the insolvency regime, and aims to deliver and promote a range of investigation and enforcement activities both civil and criminal in nature, to support fair and open markets. We do this by effectively enforcing the statutory company and insolvency regimes, maintaining public confidence in those regimes and reducing the harm caused to victims of fraudulent activity and to the business community, including dealing with the disqualification of directors in corporate failures.

BEIS’ mission is to build a dynamic and competitive UK economy that works for all, 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.

The agency also authorises and regulates the insolvency profession, 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.

By virtue of the appointment of the Official Receiver all public enquiries concerning the affairs of the company should be made to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit, 2nd Floor, 3 Piccadilly Place, London Road, Manchester, M1 3BN. Tel: 0161 234 8531 Email: piu.north@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk.

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Published 25 November 2016