A company with links to a prominent Conservative peer that secured a fast-track government PPE contract during the COVID pandemic has been slapped with a winding up petition by HMRC.

PPE Medpro Ltd was incorporated on 12 May 2020, just days after Tory peer Michelle Mone contacted procurement minister Theodore Agnew with an offer to source personal protective equipment for the NHS from Hong Kong. Mone took the step having apparently first consulted Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove.

Within six weeks, the company was handed two separate contracts worth a total of £200 million. As part of the government’s ‘VIP lane’ fast-track scheme to supply the NHS and care sector with enough personal protective equipment at the height of the pandemic, PPE Medpro did not have to go through a competitive tender for either contract.

Fans of comic book spin-off magazines and collectibles are mourning the news that Eaglemoss Ltd has filed for administration under the burden of massive post-pandemic debts.

In operation since 1975, Eaglemoss had grown into a leading specialist in licensed collectibles, producing, marketing and selling merchandise for cult film and TV series like Dr Who, Star Trek, Ghostbusters and DC Comics.

In particular, it is recognised as the world’s biggest name in so-called part works publishing -  a sub-category of the magazine industry that focuses on serialised, collectible publications with time-limited runs. Part works publications are often accompanied by free gifts for readers to collect. 

A former Premier League footballer who ran up huge gambling debts while struggling to pay his bills has been hit with extended bankruptcy restrictions.

Danny Guthrie, 35, who started his career at Liverpool before going on to play for Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United and Reading in the Premier League, admitted breaking insolvency rules after borrowing £75,000 from a friend.

The loan was made in May 2019 to help Guthrie through some financial difficulties on the understanding that he was in the process of selling a property to raise capital. A promise was made to repay the loan after the sale went through.

Contractors could end up footing the bill after a recruitment agency director who swindled HMRC out of millions in unpaid taxes received a paltry eight-year disqualification.

Adrian Sacco ran Manchester-based Best Employment Services (BES), an umbrella payroll company targeting high-earning contractors in IT, engineering and HR

The 55-year-old, who company records show has been director of a string of liquidated or dissolved payroll agencies over the years, faced investigation by the Insolvency Service after BES was wound up in 2019 owing at least £4.1m in tax to HMRC.

The new head of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has told the government the UK’s late payment culture is hurting the ability of SMEs to deal with spiralling costs.

In an audience at Number 10 Downing Street, Martin McTague, who was appointed chair of the Federation in March, spelled out his concerns about the economic challenges facing the UK’s five million small businesses.

High on the list was the on-going issue of late payments, which McTague said was holding back post-COVID recovery in the SME sector and causing unnecessary financial distress as inflation hit a 40 year high

Former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker has been sentenced to two and a half years in jail for failing to disclose millions of pounds worth of assets in a high-profile bankruptcy swindle.

The tennis ace, 54, was found guilty on four charges at Southwark Crown Court on April 8 2022.

The case was brought in relation to Becker’s bankruptcy dating back to 2017. In June that year, he was declared bankrupt over failure to keep up with repayments on a £3.85m loan from German bank, Arbuthnot Latham.

A pilot scheme in the Netherlands which saw debt recovery specialists brought in to investigate online fraud cases resulted in half the victims getting at least some of their money back.  

The trial focused on incidents where people had made a purchase online but never received the goods they paid for. Working with Dutch police, two debt collection organisations were asked to step in to track down the scammers and work on recovering funds.

In total, a quarter of the victims ended up getting all their money back, while another quarter received some of their money. In total, 87% of the fraudsters either paid back the money or went on to face police charges.

The Small Business Commissioner (SBC) Liz Barclay fears the UK’s late payment crisis “could get worse before it gets better.”

Speaking to the Federation of Small Business’s First Voice podcast, Ms Barclay conceded that more and more small businesses were suffering as a result of late payments “in the current climate”, and was not optimistic about the situation improving any time soon.

One in four freelancers are thinking about ditching self-employment because of problems getting paid on time, according to new research.

In a survey carried out by payment platform WondaPay, 24% of freelancers said they were considering looking for permanent employment because of persistent problems with late payments.

More than 400,000 small businesses in the UK are at direct risk of going under as late payments continue to rise.

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