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Businessman facing bankruptcy over money owed to staff on local paper series

A businessman is facing bankruptcy after being told he cannot appeal against a ruling that he owes thousands of pounds to 29 journalists made redundant when a regional newspaper series closed last year.

Duncan Williams bought the Dorset-based View From newspaper series for £1 in January 2018, two weeks after all of its 31 employees were put on notice of redundancy as it closed down.

Williams bought the seven weekly titles and company the Sunday Independent Ltd from businessman and Truro City Football Club co-owner Peter Masters, who retained the Sunday Independent newspaper.

In September Williams (pictured) was ruled personally responsible for up to £250,000 owed to 26 former full-time employees of the group, who were later awarded payouts for breach of contract and unlawful deduction from wages in respect of unpaid pension payments.

He has also been ruled personally liable for payments owed to three freelances who worked for View From, including two photographers, and has outstanding debts related to the business.

In total, Williams estimated that he owes nearly £1m.

An employment judge at Exeter Combined Court ruled all rights, powers, duties and liabilities had transferred to Williams when he bought View From, although he claimed he believed he was only buying the brand.

Williams initially failed in an appeal against the ruling as it was not filed within the appropriate time period.

However Press Gazette understands that decision was overturned last month and an Employment Appeal Tribunal judge will now rule on whether to allow his appeal, although Williams says he has not been notified of this.

Williams told Press Gazette some of the 29 employees involved have begun contacting him to give a 14-day warning, saying they will petition him for bankruptcy.

The businessman, who has since sold the View From series and now works in magazines, said he does not have the six-figure sum he is liable for and expects to undergo an examination of his assets by the courts.

The figure also includes outstanding payments such as an electricity bill of nearly £10,000 relating to a former office, and an unpaid rates tax bill to Cornwall County Council of several thousands of pounds.

Comments

1 thought on “Businessman facing bankruptcy over money owed to staff on local paper series”

  1. What a sorry episode , poor chap bought a bad brand it seems , yet more people out of job with no hope of getting money, I hope at least they get their pension money back

    Simon

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