Halifax businessman loses control of three of his companies in High Court ruling

Gavin Woodhouse. Photo: ITV News/GuardianGavin Woodhouse. Photo: ITV News/Guardian
Gavin Woodhouse. Photo: ITV News/Guardian
Halifax businessman Gavin Woodhouse has lost control of three of his companies, according to reports.

ITV news reports that at a hearing at the High Court, initiated by seven people who have invested money with Mr Woodhouse, a judge ordered the immediate appointment of Phil Duffy and Sarah Bell from the insolvency firm Duff and Phelps, as interim managers until a full hearing.

According to ITV News, the ruling applies to three companies that are or are likely to become insolvent.

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A full hearing to consider whether the three companies should be placed into administration will take place at a later date.

The report say that Mr Woodhouse strenuously denies any wrongdoing and has promised that investors will be repaid. He argues he has not had enough time to defend himself and assured the court he will produce up-to-date management accounts, but has so far failed to produce them.

Gavin Woodhouse, whose businesses included the former sponsor of the Shay stadium the MBi Group, and who is chairman of Northern Powerhouse Developments, based in Elland, is the subject of a joint investigation by ITV News and the Guardian newspaper, including over plans to build a £200m adventure resort in Wales.

He has defended himself against claims made by the investigation, which claims to have identified “a series of concerns” about Mr Woodhouse.

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The investigation claims that potential investors in the Afan Valley scheme were told by Mr Woodhouse that car maker Jaguar Land Rover and outdoor adventure company Go Ape are “partners” on the project, claims which both companies have disputed.

In 2015, Calderdale Council agreed a £120,000 sponsorship deal with MBi Consulting to sponsor The Shay for three years.

But the council says it is owed £80,000 by MBI Consulting for unpaid sponsorship money.

A Calderdale Council spokesperson said: “In 2015 we entered into a three-year sponsorship deal with MBI Consulting Ltd, which saw The Shay in Halifax renamed ‘The MBI Shay Stadium’. The deal was worth £120,000 over the three years. MBI paid us for the first year, but we have not received the second and third years’ payments of £40,000 per year, therefore MBI Consulting owes the Council £80,000.”

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In response to the issues raised in the joint investigation by ITV News and the Guardian, Northern Powerhouse Developments said: “Northern Powerhouse Developments is extremely disappointed with the investigation by the Guardian and ITV, which we believe is misleading and inaccurate.

“We remain committed to delivering the projects we have promised our investors, and we have repeatedly made this clear to both the Guardian and ITV.

“We have up to 600 investors, the vast majority of which have not voiced concerns.

“The allegations made by the Guardian and ITV concern a handful of disgruntled investors and do not reflect the view of investors in Northern Powerhouse Developments as a whole.

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“The company operates a complex and unusual business model which we feel has not been accurately reflected by the Guardian and ITV.

“While we have been faced with a challenging economic environment, we are delivering 90% of the projects as per original agreements and we are working hard to resolve issues regarding the remaining 10%.

“The allegations that have been put to us are that we have tried to misdirect people. That is simply not true. We have always tried to maintain contact and communications with all investors.

“Northern Powerhouse Developments has informed the Guardian and ITV of the correct position and they have ignored us.

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“We currently employ more than 600 members of staff and our transformational Afan Valley project will create a further 1,000 jobs.

“We encourage investors with concerns to contact us directly. We have always been transparent and this will continue going forward.”