Now staff sue tax whizz-kid who duped his customers

Phone 25 11 AB Darrell Littlewood demonstrates his handsfree phones. -tdazab1-4-
Phone 25 11 AB Darrell Littlewood demonstrates his handsfree phones. -tdazab1-4-
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Jack Darrell Henry, boss of the firm Council Tax Review, is facing fresh legal action as former employees take him to a tribunal.

The ex-Calderdale businessman was given a suspended jail sentence last week for misleading customers in what a judge said was “a whisker from fraud”.

Now eight former staff members have put in claims against his firm.

Among them are Mike Sandford, 57, and Kimberly Thompson, 48, who are both claiming for breach of contract plus unpaid wages and expenses totalling more than £1,000 each.

Mr Sandford, from Leeds, was employed as a business-to-business salesman for just over a week early last December.

He worked from home trying to enlist estate agents to advertise the firm’s service in exchange for commission from any refunds.

Mr Sandford said he had to fight for a proper contract and was not given the tools for the job.

He claims he did not get the company car he was promised for several days, a laptop he was told he would get never appeared and he had to buy himself a mobile phone.

The firm reimbursed him for this, but he claims was not able to use it because a SIM card Henry supplied was never activated.

Mr Sandford said he emailed Henry suggesting his pay should be suspended and he should stop working until they could find a way to move forward.

He claims Henry replied telling him to forget it and that he would pay him for the work he had done.

When he asked if that meant he was dismissed, he claims he received no response - and has never received his wage.

Mr Sandford said: “As far as I was concerned he was in breach of contract on several counts, including failing to give me a period of notice.

“There was no gross misconduct so there was no reason to fire me basically on the spot.”

Mrs Thompson, from Doncaster, worked in South Yorkshire as an agent for the Huddersfield-based firm for three weeks last November.

“After the first two weeks I started asking questions about fuel expenses which had been promised,” she said.

“I had to stand in front of the director and really push for this money, which I did not like doing.”

Eventually she received a cheque, but she claims it bounced and she is still waiting for her money.

Last Wednesday, Henry – known as Darrell Littlewood when he ran Halifax debt-recovery firm OCM – admitted 14 counts of engaging in misleading commercial practice.

Bradford Crown Court heard he and his agents falsely told customers - many of them elderly - that their homes were in the wrong council tax band and promised them refunds of up to thousands of pounds.

Judge James Stewart QC said he had “deliberately over-egged the pudding” in his marketing, which was “a whisker away from fraud”.

He sentenced him to nine months in prison, suspended for a year, and ordered him to complete 150 hours’ unpaid work.

Henry, who used to own Scarborough Football Club, must also pay £12,500 costs and refund four clients.

In mitigation, the court heard he had a “deeply flawed” understanding of how the Valuation Office Agency procedure for reviewing council tax works.

But Mrs Thompson, who was there to see him sentenced, disputes this.

She said: “In my opinion, Mr Henry knows exactly how it works.”

Mr Sandford added: “I have to say I’m embarrassed to have allowed myself to get involved with this business, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.”

The Leeds Employment Tribunal Service confirmed that eight people had lodged claims.

A hearing date has been fixed for March 30.

Henry’s firm has since been rebranded Re-Band UK Ltd and currently has around 7,000 clients.

Attempts by the Courier to contact Henry using the numbers on its website have been unsuccessful.

• A FLURRY of new complaints have been made about Jack Henry’s business since his court appearance last week, consumer watchdogs have reported.

West Yorkshire Trading Standards has confirmed it will continue to investigate the Council Tax Review boss’s firm, which has been rebranded Reband UK Ltd.

Among those who have come forward are Kay Robinson, 68, and her husband Harry, 65, of Northowram.

The couple paid £185 to the firm after receiving a flyer telling them they were paying more council tax than they should.

They wrote a cheque on November 8, 2010, and were promised a refund if their home was not rebanded.

But except for receiving a form asking for up-to-date property details last October, they have heard nothing from the firm since.

Mrs Robinson said she felt “absolutely gutted” when she read about his prosecution in the Courier.

“I felt sick actually,” she said.

“When you see these programmes on TV where people have paid upfront for something I always think: ‘Silly people’, and yet I’ve gone and done it myself.”

West Yorkshire Trading Standards took legal action against Henry after receiving 680 complaints about him through the Consumer Direct hotline.

A spokesman said: “There has been a flurry of complaints since the court case has come to light, which is what tends to happen.

“At the moment, the nature of those seems to be that people can’t get hold of the company and it is not returning calls, which is not necessarily criminal activity, but we will certainly be looking at those complaints and following up on them.”

Anyone who has concerns should call Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.