Following his company liquidation Phillip Christopher Twose, the 62 year old director of Newlook Roof Coatings Limited, has been disqualified from working as a company director for 12 years after using coercive and misleading sales practices to target vulnerable people.
Mr Twose, the sole director of the Monmouth based company, was banned following a collaboration between HM Revenue and Customs, Trading Standards, and the Health and Safety Executive. He will not be able to manage or control a company without the leave of the court for 12 years, from the 22 April 2015.
The Insolvency Service’s findings
The Insolvency Service’s investigation into the South Wales company found that Newlook Roof Coatings had been cold calling customers and intentionally targeting those who were elderly or vulnerable, coercing them into signing agreements for work that did not need to be done.
The company falsely claimed that moss they found on the customers’ roofs had caused such damage that an entirely new roof would have to be fitted. However, in reality the customers’ roofs were functioning perfectly well as they were. The company also charged vastly inflated prices for the work that was done.
Newlook Roof Coatings was initially investigated in December 2011 by Trading Standards after receiving a number of complaints from the company’s customers. This investigation resulted in a custodial sentence for Mr Twose.
There were also subsequent investigations into the company by HM Revenue and Customs and the Health and Safety Executive. This was the result of Newlook Roof Coating’s failure to submit accurate VAT returns, and its non-compliance with health and safety requirements.
A litany of failures
There was a long list of failures in Mr Twose’s disqualification undertaking, including:
- Between 24 July and 1 December 2011, Mr Twose caused Newlook Roof Coatings to engage in unfair commercial practices which were in breach of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. The company not only deceived prospective customers as to the benefits of roof coatings, but also allowed an employee to operate as a ‘master surveyor’, despite a complete lack of qualifications to fulfil this role.
- The company also quoted initial prices which were far above the market rate, followed by discounts to make the still inflated prices seem more affordable. Newlook also claimed these prices were only available for a limited period of time, thereby rushing vulnerable customers into a quick decision.
- The HMRC investigation found the company failed to declare accurate VAT returns between 6 April 2011 and 11 October 2013. It made claims declaring a total of £19,585, an estimated £391,780 less than the amount it should have paid. The company still owed this sum and penalties amounting to £162,469 upon its liquidation.
- Mr Twose also failed to ensure the company complied with health and safety requirements. Not only did he fail to ensure that work at height was properly planned, but he was also served with a Prohibition Notice for unsafe work when an employee fell six metres and suffered a major injury as a result.
Major failings and extreme misconduct
Commenting on the investigation’s findings and the subsequent disqualification, Sue MacLeod, the chief investigator at the Insolvency Service, said: “Many of the people targeted were vulnerable and the tactics used by the sales representatives exploited this to achieve sales. I would urge anyone contacted in similar circumstances to exercise caution in allowing sales representatives into your home.
“The Insolvency Service treats this kind of misconduct extremely seriously and will not hesitate to take action against directors who fail to adhere to the standards required of them. This is reflected in the period of disqualification.”