FORMER employees of ex-Calderdale businessman Jack Darrell Henry could club together to force his council tax rebanding firm to shut down, a tribunal was told.
Henry’s company Reband UK was ordered to pay more than £34,000 in unpaid wages, expenses, holiday entitlement and pay in lieu of notice to 13 claimants yesterday.
Henry did not turn up to the Leeds hearing, despite telling the Courier earlier this year he had a “full defence” .
The tribunal comes just two months after Reband UK, formerly Council Tax Review, was ordered to pay out £12,500 for duping customers.
Henry and his agents falsely told people their homes were in the wrong council tax band and promised refunds of up to thousands of pounds.
Henry, who used to run Halifax debt-recovery firm OCM and once owned Scarborough Football Club, admitted 14 counts of misleading commercial practice. He was sentenced to nine months in jail, suspended for a year.
Judge James Stewart QC said it was “a whisker away from fraud”.
Employment judge David Burton said the enterprise sounded criminal and the claims before him were well-founded.
He told two claimants who had walked out of their jobs they had been wise to do so and asked why so many others had been dismissed with no notice.
Claimant Graham Hudson told him the company took a cut of any successful refunds and agents who had worked on them were meant to get commission from it.
He said: “That was rare, but the idea was to get people in and get them out before they ever got entitled to that sum of money.”
Mr Burton told the claimants they were unlikely to get back the money they were owed easily.
He said: “In your dreams, they will send you a cheque paying you what you are owed, but they won’t do that.”
His judgement makes each claimant a creditor of the company, which means they could pay £1,385 together to have the firm wound up if he does not pay.
Mr Burton said: “If you really want to go the whole hog and get some money between you, you can club together to put the company into liquidation.”
He told them they could appoint a liquidator to investigate and report to the Department of Trade and Industry with a view to action being taken against directors.
He said the Redundancy Payments Office would then be liable to pay the claimants “a good part” of the money they are owed.
Claimants were discussing the prospect and exchanging contact details after the hearing.
Claimant Kimberley Thompson, 48, from Doncaster, told the Courier she was keen to take action.
She said: “I would like justice. Why should he be able to get away with this? It is frustrating but there’s nothing else you can do. I just feel I want to be part of stopping him. He needs to be stopped.”