Questions raised over backdated-wages ‘deal’ for View From staff
PUBLISHED: 12:20 02 June 2020 | UPDATED: 14:21 02 June 2020
On May 27, the Midweek Herald published a story in which publisher Duncan Williams claims to have secured backdated wages for staff of the former View From newspapers.
Questions have come to light, however, over this claim.
Mr Williams acquired the defunct View From titles, which covered Axminster, Honiton and Sidmouth, in January 2018.
He told the Herald he had come to an agreement with the Insolvency Service to repay 27 former employees their backdated income.
The Insolvency Service, however, confirmed with the Herald that, as at May 29, it had not received any claim on behalf of View From Newspapers Limited.
It also noted that a company must be insolvent before the Service can assist with redundancy pay.
An Insolvency Service spokesman told the Herald it had received ‘no claim with our redundancy payment service’.
He added: “We do not pay wages – we can only make redundancy payments, and we can do this when an insolvent company cannot do so.”
James Coles – former deputy editor of the View From titles and lead claimant against Mr Williams in a long-running legal dispute over money owed to former staff – said he had heard nothing of any agreement with the Insolvency Service.
He said: “I can confirm I have received no update from The Insolvency Service on the money owed to my former colleagues and I, since the Court Of Appeal in London threw out Williams’ claim that he wasn’t personally liable for the majority of the monies owed to us in February 2020.”
Mr Coles said the backdated wages, even if they were forthcoming, amounted to a ‘tiny proportion’ of what they were owed.
He said backdated pay for the 27 former employees came to just under £6,800 – ‘but we are owed a total of £323,969.98, of which Mr Williams himself is personally liable for £260,408.99’.
Mr Coles said it had become ‘clear’, after former staff received redundancy payments last November, that the Government could help them no further until Mr Williams was made ‘personally bankrupt’.
He said he had made an appointment at Plymouth Combined Court for April 6 to initiate bankruptcy proceedings but that this was cancelled due to the coronavirus lockdown.
He said: “I will be re-arranging this appointment and pushing for the bankruptcy to go forward as soon as possible after lockdown restrictions are relaxed.”
Mr Williams declined to confirm or deny the totals put forward by Mr Coles.
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