Matt Wardman writes:
We have been looking for information to throw light on the history of the underlying changes going on in the Society of Saint Stephen the Great, and the cluster of charities and companies that J Mark and Phil Brewer have set up around it.
One of the things we are audit trailing as closely as we can are the VAT numbers in use in different places at different times as recorded on the public record – which in this case consists of till receipts. Till receipts with VAT numbers are legal documents of record within the UK Tax and Accounting systems (which is why you can use them to prove expenses claims of course).
For the particular case of Durham Cathedral Shop, three till receipts from 2008 in our larger collection show the following VAT Numbers, indicating a change:
- 2/5/2008: VAT No. 899850932
- 13/6/2008: VAT No. 899850932
- 24/11/2008: VAT No. 933176522
There are copies of these receipts available to any investigators who want them, via the Contact Page.
Remember that it is legitimate and possible to keep the same VAT Number when a business changes, but on the other hand changes may also indicate underlying changes in the organisation concerned.
Changes relating to the Durham Shop have been:
- October 31 2006: SPCK Durham Cathedral Shop transferred to the Society of Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust (SSGCT) with the rest of the former-SPCK Bookshops. Trustees (as documented in the Report and Financial Statements 4 November 2004 to 31 March 2006 date stamped 17 January 2007 by the Charity Commission): J M Brewer, Mrs S K Brewer, His Eminence N Condrea, Joseph Pop. There is a further trustee who resigned in 2005, whom I will not name here.
- [Update 5.15pm 2008/12/2: 8 August 2007, SSGCT was united by direction of the Charity Commission with the new charity SAINT STEPHEN THE GREAT (Charity No. 1119839) as a subsidiary.]
- March 11 2008: Durham Cathedral Shop Management Limited set up to manage the Durham Cathedral Bookshop. Company Number: FC028290. Directors are J Mark Brewer and Philip W Brewer, Secretary is Sandra K Brewer. Management of shop transferred to this new company.
- June 2008: Attempt to put SSGCT into Bankruptcy in Houston.
I know of no changes in the corporate entities directly involved in the Durham Shop in June 2008, and the change of VAT Number indicated after that date may indicate nothing more than a certain tardiness in updating the information in the till from March 2008 or it may indicate a later change. I do not have enough information to comment further on that point.
If you have a VAT receipt from the period August 2006 to August 2008 from the Durham Cathedral Shop, and are willing to supply a copy, please would you get in touch via the Contact Page and help us build a full history.
Once again, I need to state here that the SPCK mission society who used to be associated with the bookshop chain which includes the Durham Cathedral Bookshop is no longer involved in any way, and that Durham Cathedral are the landlord and not responsible for the management of the Durham Cathedral Bookshop. Nothing in this article reflects on either Durham Cathedral or SPCK.
Please do not use the comment thread on this post to speculate. This is about simply collecting an audit trail.