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Print farmer’s ‘series of counter claims’

As the fall-out from the collapse of Carillion continues with creditors waiting in vain for payment, spare a thought for a long list of printers, graphic designers, publishers, print finishers and members of the public who haven’t been paid from the HousePrint debacle.

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Book Printer: the latest printing company operated by Neill Malcolm Stuart John

The company was run by the notorious print farmer Neill Malcolm Stuart John of Barry in Wales, and went to wall in 2016. No one was paid as the liquidators found there to be no assets. However there was something odd on the balance sheet presented at the liquidation. House Print (trading as The Printing House) claimed to be owed £585,385.28 whilst owing £288,379. These figures have since been adjusted very slightly, but the difference is astonishing as any administrator worth their salt would quite possibly have been able to save the firm or at least see it trade out of its difficulties.

Print Monthly understands from a source at the heart of the case that the £585,385.28 was likely to be “a series of spurious counter claims.” This publication contacted some of those on the list of debtors asking if they owed the amounts mentioned in the report, and they all replied they were owed money and not the other way around, or they refused to pay when their work was not printed or not printed correctly. The amounts varied from a few hundred pounds to over £100,000.

You have to step back and wonder if this guy is living in a bubble. We all think we know what he’s doing but it can be hard to prove.

Ian Carrott of ICSM the print intelligence group, who share information on potential bad debts to printing firms says: “You have to step back and wonder if this guy is living in a bubble. We all think we know what he’s doing but it can be hard to prove. The weight of evidence submitted by unhappy customers and by the debtors listed suggests he uses less than conventional business ethics. The key message is to avoid companies like this and only use printers with sound business practices. None of our members have been caught out as we hear bad news first and pass it on.”

Neill Malcolm Stuart John continues to this day, trading as a print farmer letting customers down with poor work, no delivery of the ordered job or broken promises under a never ending list of company names online, with the latest being The Book Printer. Whether it is fraud is hard to prove, although his long list of unhappy customers are quite open about saying it is fraud rather than simply a trading standards problem. And there lies the problem. Every week this publication receives emails from those who have fallen foul of the print farmer with many having lost thousands, and even their business and some their sanity. As long as he continues in business and the authorities fail to act, he will continue with his business practices bringing the print industry into disrepute. However there is hope as those affected are now banding together to press the authorities to act and bring an end to this sorry saga.

If you have an interesting story or a view on this news, then please e-mail news@printmonthly.co.uk

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