Farepak Food & Gifts Limited – European Home Retail Limited Directors Responsibilities

Please see, set out below, the respective responsibilities of the defendants currently involved in the case in High Court, Chancery Division, 584 of 2011 In the matter of European Home Retail plc and in the matter of Farepak Food & Gifts Ltd.

For the avoidance of doubt, Mr Hicks and Mrs Ponting have had proceedings against them discontinued.

EHR APPT EHR ROLE FFG APPT FFG ROLE 
Mr Fowler 01/01/2006 Group Financial Director 01/01/2006 Director
Mr Gillis 15/08/2003 Non-executive N/A N/A
Mr Gilodi-Johnson 25/09/2001 Director 23/02/2005 Managing Director
Mr Hicks N/A N/A 16/10/2003 Finance Director
Mr Johns 28/09/2005 Non-executive N/A N/A
Mr Munn 20/11/2002 Non-executive N/A N/A
Mrs Ponting N/A N/A 01/05/2004 Responsible for customer service and IT
Mr Rollason 08/01/2003 Chief Executive Officer 23/05/2003 Chairman of the Board
Sir Clive Thompson 05/10/1988 Non-executive Chairman (from August 2001) N/A N/A

FAREPAK DIRECTORS TRIAL DAY 7 – 31 MAY 2012

Unfortunately not much to report today.  Mrs Burns, on behalf of the Secretary of State [Vince Cable] has finished giving evidence.

Court is still running behind so the schedule is a bit messed up and as we reported yesterday, witnesses were being shifted to some time “in the future…..”!

Court shall sit tomorrow, 1 June 2012 and then shall not re-sit until Tuesday, 12 June 2012.

Unfairpak feel this is significant time to appoint a journalist to the case and we are hopeful that someone will pick it up.

We shall be blogging over the next couple of days as we have various pieces of information regarding Farepak Food & Gifts Limited that we wish to share with you.

As always, if you require any help whatsoever, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

FAREPAK DIRECTORS TRIAL DAY 6 – 30 MAY 2012

Mrs Burns, for the Secretary of State, Insolvency Service finished giving evidence on behalf of said Secretary of State today and cross examination began by all defence counsels.  Mrs Burns had been giving evidence for 2 days on behalf of the Secretary of State and cross examination will continue again tomorrow, 31 May 2012.

Unfairpak would like to thank Simon Neville from the Guardian who took the time to go down to court today and see if he could report on same.  Unfortunately, due to the fact that Mrs Burns was beginning to be cross examined, Simon was not in possession of the evidence that had been heard over the last couple of days.  However, he did let us know that the defence were stating that the Insolvency Service were not offering any suggestions for what the directors should have done sooner.  Unfortunately, Mr Justice Peter Smith seemed to concur, stating “The Secretary of State [Vince Cable] wants me to disqualify these directors for doing too little too late……”.  “….. But you’ve given me nothing to suggest what they should have done differently”.  We at Unfairpak feel it is a little too early into the trial for the judge to be making such a statement but we have to concede that we have not heard whether Mrs Burns did offer up any suggestions as to what the directors should have done differently.  Judging on what Mr Justice Peter Smith has said, it appears she [Mrs Burns] offered nothing.

As we have already reported, the schedule is running behind.  We can confirm that witnesses that were supposed to give evidence today were told to come tomorrow and have now been told it will be changed to “sometime in the future”.

Unfairpak have always stated that this is a complex case and perhaps now people may begin to understand why it has taken so long to get to the stage it is currently at.  The trial is set down for 6 to 8 weeks but it may run longer.  We shall just have to wait and see.

There are two more days this week for evidence to be heard and then court will be closed for the holiday on Monday and Tuesday, 4th and 5th June respectively.

We shall, of course, keep you up to date with any further information we receive.

COURT DETAILS FAREPAK DIRECTORS TRIAL DAY 5 – 30 MAY 2012

http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/court-lists/list-chancery-judges

COURT 26
Before MR JUSTICE PETER SMITH
Wednesday, 30 May 2012
At 10 o’clock
FOR JUDGMENT
INTERIM HEARINGS LIST
HC12A01404 Quayle v Rothman Pantail & Co
 
 
Not Before half past 10
GENERAL LIST
Part Heard
584 of 2011 In the matter of European Home Retail plc and in the matter of Farepak Food & Gifts Ltd

TWITTER @UNFAIRPAK – @scotsgirlie

Twitter never did reply to us to explain why our @unfairpak account was suspended.  All of a sudden, it has appeared back on line.

We feel that we have made great headway using our National Campaign Co-ordinator’s Twitter account @scotsgirlie and accordingly, we feel it is best that we stick to that account at present.

Accordingly, please keep following @scotsgirlie for all up to date information regarding Farepak.

TRIAL OF FAREPAK DIRECTORS – DAY 4 29 MAY 2012

Today brought a mixture of emotions to Unfairpak.  We have been frantically trying to find out why no one is reporting on this case and we have actually had responses from newspapers stating “I was not aware……………”!  Hopefully now they are aware they will realise the importance of this case and start reporting on same.

The trial is running behind by approximately one day which has shifted the schedule a little and the schedule may shift again.  Unfairpak have ascertained and can confirm that the Directors will each give evidence for approximately 3 days each and there are 7 Directors to hear from.  Accordingly, the Directors’ evidence alone will amount to 21 days.  This highlights the scale of this actual case.  The Insolvency Service will be giving evidence into the latter part of June and Stevan Fowler will be the first Director to take the stand once the Insolvency Service rest their case.

Unfairpak have further ascertained that to obtain the transcripts of this trial would be extremely cumbersome and extremely costly.  Accordingly, we need reporters in court tweeting the evidence out to the general public.  There was a court reporter in court today but we are unsure as to whether there were any journalists or not.

The Directors do not need to be in court until they give evidence but they have been coming and going from court. 

Could anyone who suffered loss as a result of Farepak and would be willing to talk to the media, please email our National Campaign Co-ordinator, suzy@unfairpak.co.uk

We hope that we will be in a position to report a little more tomorrow.

 

 

MR JUSTICE PETER SMITH – PRESIDING JUDGE EHR/FAREPAK TRIAL

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Smith_(judge

 

Sir Peter Winston Smith (born 1 May 1952), styled The Hon Mr Justice Peter Smith, is a Judge of the High Court of Justice in England and Wales, appointed to that office on 15 April 2002 and assigned to the Chancery Division.[1] His name is correctly abbreviated in English legal writing as “Peter Smith J,” and not as “Smith J,” because there are other senior judges also named Smith.

He has presided over several prominent cases, which include a suit between boxer Lennox Lewis and his promoter Panos Eliades, as well as a copyright case involving the novel The Da Vinci Code. In the latter case, he rejected a claim by authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail that Dan Brown had violated copyright by copying major themes from their work. More recently, Peter Smith J presided over a huge claim by the Attorney General of Zambia for recovery of the proceeds of fraud.[2] He was also involved in the early stages of the £100m Chelsea Barracks development, before being replaced at the last minute before the case came to trial.

In 2008 he was reprimanded by the Lord Chief Justice for his misconduct in the “Addleshaw Goddard matter”.

Biography

Smith was born in Taiping, Malaysia to George Arthur Smith and Iris Muriel Smith, while his father was posted abroad. He grew up with five siblings in Hornsea, East Yorkshire, and attended grammar school in nearby Bridlington.

He read law at Selwyn College, Cambridge. After receiving a BA degree in 1974 and an MA degree in 1976, Smith briefly practised in Liverpool before becoming a law lecturer at Manchester University from 1977-1983. Smith practised as a barrister on the Northern Circuit from 1979–2002, being an Assistant Recorder from 1994–97, a Deputy High Court Judge from 1996–2002, and a Recorder from 1997-2002. Upon his elevation to the High Court bench in 2002, Sir Peter was knighted as a matter of course.[3] In 2003 he was voted most unpopular chancery judge in a survey by Legal Business magazine.

In 1980, Smith married Diane Dalgleish. They have one son and two daughters. Smith is a member of the Titanic Historical Society and the British Titanic Society. Other hobbies include being a “Jackie Fisher fan”, reading military history, and football. He lives in Shropshire. In 2010 he made a controversial planning application for conversion of the coach house and porter’s lodge at his home into residential dwellings.

[edit] The Da Vinci Code and the “Smithy Code”

In April 2006, Smith ruled that Dan Brown had not breached the copyright of Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, authors of the pseudo-historical book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. While Brown had taken ideas from the earlier book, he did not copy the “central theme” of his book from there. As ideas themselves cannot be copyrighted, Smith ruled that Brown had therefore not substantially copied the original work.[4]

Within his printed judgment,[5] which was delivered on 7 April 2006, the judge embedded a coded message, apparently placed for amusement. The first few pages contained scattered letters which were italicised. The first section spelt ‘smithy code’, followed by a number of other seemingly random letters. The judge stated that he would not discuss the code as he was not able to talk about his ruling, but that he would confirm any correct attempt to break it.

However, it was later learned that the judge had given a series of email hints about the code, which was finally announced as cracked on 28 April 2006, by Daniel Tench, a lawyer and media journalist for The Guardian newspaper.[6] The plain text reads: “Smithy Code. Jackie Fisher, who are you? Dreadnought.” This related to the subject of one of Smith’s personal interests, Admiral Lord (John) Fisher, who was responsible for the design of the battleship HMS Dreadnought. The ship was launched in February 1906, roughly 100 years before the start of the trial.

In the appeal to the Court of Appeal from the judge’s decision in the “The Da Vinci Code” case, the Court of Appeal said that the judge “was prompted by the extensive use in [The Da Vinci Code] of codes, and no doubt by his own interest in such things, to incorporate a coded message in his judgment, on which nothing turns. The judgment is not easy to read or to understand. It might have been preferable for him to have allowed himself more time for the preparation, checking and revision of the judgment.”[7]

[edit] The Addleshaw Goddard matter – the reprimand by the Lord Chief Justice

Smith spent some months in communication with London solicitor’s firm, Addleshaw Goddard relating to the possibility of employment by them. Those discussions came to nothing and there was considerable email correspondence as evidence of his disappointment. But in July 2007, about a month after the conclusion of those negotiations, the judge refused to stand down from hearing a heavily contested case (Howell v Lees Millais & Others) involving a partner in the same firm in his capacity as a trustee. On appeal from that decision, the Court of Appeal criticised the judge for his attitude and behaviour during the hearing when he was asked to step down and allowed the appeal, with the effect of removing him from the case.

In its unanimous judgments of 4 July 2007, the Court of Appeal described the judge’s behaviour in part as “intemperate” and “somewhat extraordinary”.[8] In one paragraph of his judgment, Lord Justice Judge said:

“It is the conduct of the hearing which underlines that the judge had become too personally involved in the decision he was being asked to make to guarantee the necessary judicial objectivity which would be required in the trustee proceedings. I identify three particular features. First, the witness who supported the application was in effect cross-examined by the judge in something of the style of an advocate instructed to oppose the application. Second, the submission by counsel for the applicant that the judge had given evidence was in the circumstances unsurprising, and the concerns he expressed on this topic were validly made. Finally, the judge impugned the good faith of the application, a conclusion repeated in the strongest terms in his judgment when there is no shred of evidence to suggest some ulterior or improper motive behind the application.”

In a concluding comment on the way in which the judge behaved, Lord Justice Judge said: ‘In these circumstances it is unfortunate to have to record that, in my judgment, the conduct of the hearing itself demonstrated not only that the application to the judge to recuse himself was rightly made, but that it should have been granted. ‘

The judge himself then issued a press release on the topic.[9] By 13 July 2007, Joshua Rozenberg, a well known legal journalist, was suggesting in the Daily Telegraph that it was time for the judge to stand down.[10]

On 16 July 2007, it was announced in a press release from the Judicial Communications Office that the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers had referred the judge’s behaviour in the case to the independent Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC). Frances Gibb embarked on speculation as to whether the judge should stay in office in The Times on 18 July[11] and Rozenberg returned to the point on 19 July.[12] Both journalists mentioned the question of the judge’s health, but without going into detail.

The Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor may refer for investigation by the OJC any matter where the conduct of a judicial office holder may warrant disciplinary proceedings. They may make this referral irrespective of whether there have been any complaints made by others. The Office for Judicial Complaints is obliged to consider the matter in accordance with the relevant statutory regulations.[13]

On 18 April 2008 it was announced in the following terms that the OJC had found that misconduct had been established against the judge.

Following investigation under the Judicial Discipline Regulations 2006, the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice have carefully considered the Court of Appeal’s comments on the conduct of Mr Justice Peter Smith in the case of Howell and others v Lees-Millais and others and have concluded that the conduct in question amounted to misconduct.

As a result, the Lord Chief Justice has issued a reprimand to the judge.

The Lord Chief Justice has said: “I consider that a firm line has now been drawn under this matter. Both I and the Lord Chancellor value the services of Mr Justice Peter Smith and he has my full confidence.”

No statement was made by the judge.

Candy trial

Smith’s was replaced as judge at the last minute in the case between the Qatari royal family and Christian Candy, a property developer. Smith’s decisions in the pre-trial hearings were said to have upset the Qataris and he was replaced for the trial by Mr Justice Vos.

COURT DETAILS FAREPAK DIRECTORS TRIAL 29 MAY 2012 – DAY 4

http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/court-lists/list-chancery-judges

COURT 26
 
Before MR JUSTICE PETER SMITH
 
Tuesday, 29 May 2012
 
At half past 10
 
GENERAL LIST
 
Part Heard
 
584 of 2011 In the matter of European Home Retail plc and in the matter of Farepak Food & Gifts Ltd

Farepak Directors Trial Day 3 – 28 May 2012

The hearing of evidence began today and we at Unfairpak are very disappointed to report that we called the court and spoke to Mr Justice Peter Smith’s clerk who advised us that she would ask Mr Justice Peter Smith to announce to the court whether reporters were allowed to tweet or not and for us to call back for confirmation.

We did call back for confirmation and were told by Mr Justice Peter Smith’s clerk that he announced that reporters are allowed to tweet but unfortunately, again as advised by the clerk, there were no reporters in court today.

We understand that there are quite a few high profile cases ongoing but we would have thought that at least one reporter would be following the case especially given the fact that the hearing of evidence began today.

If journalists are reading our blog and/or forum, we would implore you to start reporting on this case.  The creditors of Farepak deserve to know the facts of the case and it is only by journalists reporting same that these facts will become public.  This is a very important case as it affected so many people on low incomes and effectively ruined Christmas 2006 for over 100,000 people.

 

The Times 17 February 2011 written by our National Campaign Co-ordinator

To have been given a chance to write an article for the Times regarding Farepak is something I would never have dreamed of. However, that is exactly what happened and here is the finished, printed, published article.

 

Suzy Hall

February 17 2011 12:01AM

On October 13, 2006, some 123,000 people had Christmas ripped from their hands when Farepak went into administration, taking with it £40 million of savers’ money. I was one of them. My family lost £1,000, but others fared even worse.

But at long last, all of us who, month after month, deposited our money with the Christmas hamper company might have something to celebrate. This week, the Insolvency Service began formal disqualification proceedings against nine former Farepak directors. These people are not fit to run a company; they deserve to be struck off.

The campaign group Unfairpak has fought continuously to have the directors brought to account for their incompetent, greedy, selfish and irresponsible actions. I firmly believe that the directors did not expect for one second that there would be an uprising of savers calling for justice. But now we can say that the voices of the “little people” have made a difference.

On August 23, 2006, the shares of European Home Retail, the parent company of Farepak, were suspended. Despite this obvious sign that the company was in serious trouble, the Farepak directors continued to take customers’ money — and ultimately the Christmases of thousands of children. Knowing that some of the directors must have been aware that Farepak was facing liquidation makes us savers feel even more that we were regarded with utter contempt by them.

During the weeks after the collapse, while Farepak savers were worrying about how we were going to pay for our families’ presents, we were subjected to images on TV and in the papers of the directors leaving their million-pound homes, even jetting off on luxury holidays. But the portrayal of savers as simply “poor people” or “financially illiterate” was wrong. Farepak savers were prudent. They planned ahead in order to avoid debts at Christmas. Despite this prudence, at the moment we are to get back no more than 15p for every £1 lost, although we hope that figure will rise.

The outcry over politicians’ expenses and bankers’ bonuses shows that society is no longer willing to sit back and let the “fat cats” get away with it any more. We are becoming a classless, less deferential society and the Farepak fightback is another example of how the voices of the “little people” will be heard. If any good can come from the debacle, this could be it. This week a loud message has been sent: no one is above the law and, though it may take time, justice will prevail.

 

Suzy Hall is national campaign co-ordinator of Unfairpak