Brewer on the Brink: Bad Faith Special

Phil Groom writes:

Update 20/09/2008: Message for Pauline Edwards from ‘a concerned party’

I’ve contacted both Usdaw and the Bury St Edmunds Employment Tribunals office to request reports on today’s hearings: will post an update when I hear from them. Whilst we wait for that, thought I’d highlight some recent comments:

From dyfrig, September 17, 2008, we have some further analysis of Brewer’s response to Randy Williams’ motion for sanctions. Seems to me that Brewer is well and truly on the brink:

(yes, the same dyfrig whose comments are linked to by Randy Williams’ deposition).

If case filing in the US is anything like the UK, what Brewer is doing is simply laying out his stall of how his case will generally go – quite often, you simply say “Defendant denies the insertion in paragraph 4 of the plaintiff’s case”, so that the court knows where the areas of dispute are. At this stage this look like a skeleton document – the full details of why Brewer disagrees will come later.

As noted above, Brewer does admit that the action was wrong, to the extent that it was “ill-advised”, and shouldn’t have been brought. The question is whether Randy Williams is satisfied with getting him to admit that and taking the financial penalty, or wants to pursue the points of principle. Of course Brewer won’t admit to those points right now, partly because they come with further financial and professional sanction, but also because they would affect the ETs and any action the Charity Comms in England are thinking about.

Speaking as a lawyer, his deposition is the right way to go about it. The trustee has to decide (based on his assessment of the strength of his case) whether to take it further than this and put it in front of a court.

I’m very puzzled by one statement – I’m not sure a Director of a Company can legitimately claim to not know what the assets are, especially as it is the Directors who sign off on the Annual Report and Balance Sheet before it is presented to the AGM – admittedly, Saint Stephen the Great is so new (16th Feb 07) that no Accounts are yet due. However, to be acting properly as a Director Mr Brewer and is colleagues are legally obliged to submit accounts to Companies House of the state of their company at 16th Feb 08 by no later than 16th December this year. As they are 6 months overdue with their annual return (a simple piece of paper listing the names of the directors), it does not appear that they are very good at filing documents.

I suspect that few here need any further convincing of the Brewers’ bad faith, but for any who do, I think Neil Denham‘s recent observation of the Exeter shop back in business, trading under the SPCK name, says it loud and clear. Remember, this is the shop that made the headlines in Ruth Gledhill’s Times Online report in October last year as all the staff resigned and left Philip Brewer ruining the shop single-handedly (also reported in Christian Marketplace and by Dave Walker; the original story in the Exeter Express & Echo seems to have vanished). It was then put up for auction … then withdrawn from sale… so I guess it’s hardly surprising that they can’t make their minds up whether it’s open or closed:

Exeter shop open this week with ageny staff, sign in the window says “closing down” and everything is 40% off. The girls knew a little of what had gone on in the shop, but I suggested a bit of googling for them to entertain themselves… I am sure they will have found this blog by now!

(Hello girls, by the way, if you’ve found us: do feel free to leave a comment.)

But by far the worst example of the Brewers’ bad faith is shown by this heart cry from Pauline Edwards:

WHY Mr Brewer, did you ring me up to say you would pay me?
WHY Mr Brewer, did you build me up , just to knock me down again?
WHY MR Brewer, do you think its ok to treat people like this?
WHY Mr Brewer, do you keep playing mind games?
It has been a week since you have rang me, every day I have checked my bank account, even this morning, you have made me feel the way you did when you sacked me by E-mail on June 4th, you have made me feel the way you did on june 25th, when I had no wages, I just feel very low and sick again. By the way as I said to you I would drop the case if I had my wages, you didn’t keep to your side, so the case still stands this morning in court.

Words do not fail me: it’s just that the words that come to mind are not fit for publication…

.

From: a concerned party, September 20, 2008 at 2:25 am

Please forward a message to Pauline Edwards. Could not find an email access for her from all the comments on this site.
Do not know all details from past discussions stated on this site, but regarding monies to be sent to Ms. Edwards last week. The reality of that specific deposit is that it was not forth-coming due to Hurricane Ike, which hit Houston, Texas on Friday 12Sept’08. The 130 mph winds, rain and flooding knocked out over 4,000,000 homes & businesses leaving them without power, water and other services for many days. Some of the services have been restored, but as of today, power still has not been restored to over 2.5 million people; one of which is the entity that would make the deposit into Ms. Edwards account.
Finally today, after finding power miles outside of Houston to do internet connections, including Ms. Edward’s deposit through Natwest’s (the funding bank’s) commercial online banking system……. Natwest is now doing some type of maintenance until further notice. Therefore, please advise Ms. Edwards that her deposit will be done as soon as Natwest allows access to their commercial systems.
Again, this explanation is strictly to inform Ms. Edwards of the disposition of her deposit and is not to justify or requires any further discussion regarding the past problems Ms. Edward’s has encountered.

I have forwarded this to Pauline. Whoever you are, thank you; my thoughts and prayers are with you and all others affected by Hurricane Ike: very much appreciate your concern and effort in taking the time to provide this information.

— Phil Groom

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24 responses to “Brewer on the Brink: Bad Faith Special

  1. When Dyfrig talked about submitting records to Companies House I did a double take. I do hope that “colleagues” means the directors of the companies – just the Brewers – and not others caught in their net like those whose names appear on the Companies House records.

  2. I’m not sure a Director of a Company can legitimately claim to not know what the assets are, especially as it is the Directors who sign off on the Annual Report and Balance Sheet before it is presented to the AGM…

    They can’t. The Directors are legally responsible for the company – they can appoint people to do the grunt work for them, as many directors are not qualified as accountants, but there is a statement at the front of every set of accounts that says “we certify that this is a true and fair record of the accounts of Company X at date Y…” and it is signed.

    I’d be interested to know who their auditors are.

  3. They don’t have auditors. They only have accountants at Brewer and Pritchard.

  4. Say’s it all, keep every thing in the family, Do they pay themselves to do that as well?

  5. I am disgusted that Mark Brewer still feels he can act in such a way towards Pauline. I am angry that, as a director, Mark Brewer can claim to not know what is happening to the assests of the charity/company/busy. I hope the Texas courts find him guilty on all charges.

    Do we have the name of the accountants for the Brewers? Or are they just un-nammed customer employees?

  6. Phelim the accountants are just following orders from on high (I hope).

  7. Accountants, I think, will tend to do as they’re told, unless they’re made of particularly stern stuff. Auditors, on the other hand, are far more dangerous — and I’d love to see someone chasing down an audit trail for all these stock transfers we keep hearing about…

    On a lighter note: a friend just told me that for every minute I’m angry I lose 60 seconds of happiness. He has a point, I think…

  8. My daughter has taken pictures of the Birmingham Shop, how do we upload them?

  9. On the subject of photos there are some Exeter ones on my blog http://exeterblog.blogspot.com/2008/09/spck-bookshop-exeter-rip.html

    Feel free to use them from Fickr if you need them for this blog.

  10. Thanks Neil — will take a look and grab them over the weekend.

    Pauline: if you’d like to upload your photos to your facebook album, I can grab them from there if you’re OK with that. Otherwise maybe you’d like to email them to me? Thanks.

  11. will be in winchester and salisbury in the next few days- do we need newer photos of these branches?

  12. I think the more up to date we can keep things the better, so yes please. And that old ‘Sign of the Pilgrim’ in Salisbury really needs preserving for posterity, I’d say.

    If the shops are open and you have time to pop in, maybe you could try to persuade the staff to sign the Save Durham Cathedral Bookshop petition? 😉

  13. Accountants, I think, will tend to do as they’re told, unless they’re made of particularly stern stuff.

    We’re not supposed to do anything illegal or unethical, and I do know that my professional body will support any member who is being pressured to break the law by their employer, and the same applies to all the professional accounting bodies in the UK.

    I am pretty sure that your accounts have to be audited by an external company, unless that only applies if your turnover is more than a certain amount.

  14. Thanks for that reassurance, rosamundi: I was not intending to cast aspersions on your profession — my apologies for any that may have been felt!

  15. Thanks for that reassurance, rosamundi: I was not intending to cast aspersions on your profession — my apologies for any that may have been felt!

    No worries – it happens, there are surely crooked accountants just as there are crooked lawyers, doctors, dentists [insert profession here], but the professional bodies don’t like it, and will really come down on you.

  16. Oh, and I’m not quite an accountant yet – I’m a student.

    I found this page on the Charity Commission’s website:

    https://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/supportingcharities/ogs/g015b002.asp

    “There is normally no statutory requirement for any form of scrutiny of the accounts of an unincorporated charity with a gross income £10,000 or less.

    6.3 Independent examination
    Charities with a gross income between £10,000 and £100,000 which have prepared receipts and payment accounts must have those accounts independently examined.”

    The definition of “independent examiner,” being “an independent person who is reasonable believed by the charity trustees to have the requisite ability and practical experience to carry out a competent examination of the accounts” is interesting.

    “3.1 For an examiner to be independent that individual should have no connection with the charity trustees which might inhibit the impartial conduct of the examination.

    3.2 Whether this connection exists will depend upon the circumstances of a particular charity but the following persons at least will normally be considered to have such a connection:

    a) the charity trustees or anyone else who is closely involved in the administration of the charity;

    b) a major donor to or major beneficiary of the charity; or

    c) a close relative, spouse, partner, business partner or employee of any person who falls within sub-paragraph (a) or (b) above.”

    I think the accountants of Brewer and Pritchard are thus disqualified from auditing the accounts as they are employees of any person who falls within sub-paragraph (a).

  17. Valiant for Truth

    Another point is that charities are eligible for reduced Council Tax payments, but as ENC is not a charity, local councils in Bradford, Salisbury, York, Newcastle will be entitled to send a higher Council Tax demand.

  18. I HAVE BEEN PAID,
    A great big THANK YOU to Phil Groom, Asingleblog, and everybody else who has stood by me. The one good thing that has come out of this is, this is not just a blog, it has become like a family, and I am still standing by everyone else, who are still waiting for there wages. A big THANK YOU to this blog, without this blog, I never would of known of what was going on. Mr Brewer, I am a women of my word, and I will let Acas know I have been paid, and will drop the case. Mr Brewer can you pay all my fellow brothers and sisters as well?

  19. Pauline: great news, well done. This has been a major ordeal for you, and we admire you for hanging on in there, and for keeping your word. I’m guessing all your PAYE payments are up to date as well (he said mischeivously)?

    btw, whatever happened to ‘creditor of the week?’ Now you have a track record, Phil, they should be queuing up….!

  20. Hurray! A small victory but a victory at least. Now what about all the other employees owed wages/holiday pay and goodness knows whatever else financially? What about all the suppliers owed money? What about the landlords who are owed rent? What about other bodies owed money? Any chance of Mr Brewer paying them?

  21. How about everybody, sends there telephone numbers and how much He owes them, and see if He responds? He did for me, He rang me up for my bank details etc, it would be great if we all could have a happy ending . Try it. I think because He didn’t win the court case in America, He knows He has got to pay out now.

  22. Pauline, I’m so pleased for you. All I can do is repeat what a friend said, “There should be no Robinson Crusoe’s”.

  23. Pingback: J Mark Brewer, I salute you again - but still briefly « SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info

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