Directors of collapsed print group disqualified for 16 years

Two former print bosses have been disqualified for a total of 16 years for offences including false invoicing.

Mike Dolan and Ben Crozier, directors of the failed £65m-turnover print group Media & Print Investments (MPI), were disqualified for eight years each from 1 February 2013 at a court hearing on 11 January.

Prior to its collapse in May 2008, MPI bought a host of print firms across the South of England, including Borcombe SP, Butler & Tanner, Friary Press and Goodman Baylis.

Dolan and Crozier's disqualification marks the conclusion of a contested trial that followed an Insolvency Service investigation into events leading up to the administration of MPI and its subsidiaries.

A statement issued by the Insolvency Service said that the court found that MPI had breached its factoring agreement by raising two false invoices totalling £440,461 and obtaining payment on them.

In addition, assets subject to fixed charges were sold and the company failed to pay the proceeds to the chargeholder, which suffered a loss estimated at £545,378. The court also found that the group companies made payments to their own management companies at a time when creditors were not being paid.

David Brooks, a chief examiner for the Insolvency Service, said: "Actions taken with company assets have to be carried out with regard to creditors and others with interests in those assets.

"Transactions at the latter stages of a company’s existence, when it is insolvent, need to be carried out with care with a view to the directors’ duties to all creditors and the company, not just to themselves."

However, Dolan told PrintWeek: "Thankfully, there has never been any suggestion that our actions caused the demise of MPI or that our actions were motivated to personally benefit us from any of the alleged wrongdoings.

"Moreover, the court accepted that the factoring company did not lose a single penny in consequence of the alleged false invoices, they were adequately covered by other receivables. Mr Crozier and I lost our investment of over £3.4m in the business whereas payments to our management companies that were complained of were in the low thousands."

Dolan said that he and Crozier were "extremely disappointed" with the intitial court decision and that they would "await Counsel's opinion with regard to the merits of appealing this decision".

"The facts were never in issue," he added. "The outcome revolved around one man’s interpretation of those facts; the Registrar, which we respect but do not agree with. We were severely hampered in presenting our case by the unfortunate and untimely demise of former MD Jeff Heyes, whose evidence we considered critical.

"The court acknowledged that both Mr Crozier and I cooperated with the enquiry at every stage and the Registrar even remarked 'I believe that he [Mr Dolan] was truthful'.

"It has never been disputed that what we did was altruistically intended to preserve the jobs of some 500 employees that were jeopardised by the unlawful industrial action of members of Unite at Butler & Tanner’s Frome factory."

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