Press release

Undertaker undertakes 8-year director disqualification for failure to safeguard funeral funds

Andrew Mark Baker, a director of Baker & Brown Limited, which traded as Cotswold Funeral Services and Honeybourne Funeral Services, has been disqualified from acting as a director for 8 years for selling funeral plans without authority and for failing to safeguard these funds.

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Mr Baker’s disqualification from 26 January follows an investigation by the Insolvency Service following the liquidation of Baker & Brown Limited.

Mr Baker (51) has given an undertaking to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skill, which prevents him from becoming directly or indirectly involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company for 8 years from 26 January.

The Investigation found that between February 2010 and January 2012 Mr Baker sold funeral plans to at least 4 elderly customers for at least £10,000 without authority to do so under current financial legislation.

The regulated sale of funeral plans should enable customers to pay for their funeral in advance with the assurance that their payment has been protected and is available when needed. Mr Baker failed to safeguard these funds and the four customers subsequently became creditors in the liquidation. It was also found that Mr Baker had failed to pay over charitable donations of at least £180.

Commenting on the disqualification, Robert Clarke, Head of Insolvency Investigations North, at the Insolvency Service, said:

When directors of a company do not comply with legislation that is designed to protect customers, and avoidable losses result, the Insolvency Service will fully investigate the circumstances and take action where appropriate.

In this case, a number of elderly customers have been left out of pocket thanks to Mr Baker’s disregard of protective legislation and it is appropriate that his disqualification is for a significant period of time.

Notes to editors

Andrew Mark Baker is of Stratford Upon Avon and his date of birth is 5 May 1963.

Baker & Brown Ltd (CRO No. 06753063) was incorporated on 19 November 2008 and traded as Cotswold Funeral Services and Honebourne Funeral Services. The company traded from Well Lane, Stow on the Wod, Gloucestershire, GL54 1 DG, 34b High Street, Honeybourne, Worcestershire, WR11 4PQ and latterly at 31 Broad Marston Road, Pebworth, Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 8XT.

Andrew Mark Baker was a director from 19 November 2008. Sandra Dawn Brown was an appointed director between 19 November 2008 and 31 December 2011 and Paul Simon Gillett was a director between 27 August 2010 and 10 February 2011.

Baker & Brown ltd entered into creditors’ voluntary liquidation on 18 March 2013

The disqualification undertaking starts on 26 January 2015.

Andrew Mark Baker was convicted at the Worcester Crown Court on 5 September 2014 to 21 months imprisonment suspended for 24 months and to 250 hours of unpaid work for dishonestly making false representations to make gain (5 counts), Retaining wrongful credit (2 counts) and Theft (3 counts).

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.

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.

Published 23 January 2015