Store chief barred

The English ICA has expelled the former chairman of the collapsed over disrepute. Lewis’s group of department stores for a catalogue of offences related to the downfall of the once-famous retail chain.

James Fyfe, of Macclesfield, was also ordered to pay £1,500 costs and was banned from re-applying for membership of the institute until at least 2003.

The disciplinary action followed Fyfe’s disqualification as a company director in 1996. A High Court judge barred him from holding directorships for seven years after hearing how he and fellow director Piers Hedley had paid £500,000 to themselves, or to companies where they had an interest, at a time when the retail group was insolvent with debts of £17.5m.

The group’s flagship Birmingham store, along with 11 other shops, was put into receivership in 1991 with the loss of hundreds of jobs, three years after Fyfe led a management buyout of the company.

The Birmingham store, opened in 1885 by philanthropist and businessman David Lewis, once boasted the city’s finest food hall.

Fyfe attended the tribunal and expressed contrition for his actions, but did not have legal representation.

The tribunal noted he had initially denied the allegations, but had not contested the High Court actions because he could not afford legal representation, and was not eligible for legal aid. But it still found him guilty of action likely to bring the profession into disrepute.

In a separate case, disqualified director, David Roberts of Woodlands Road, Darlington, was thrown out of the institute and banned from re-applying for at least ten years. Roberts was financial director of two private limited companies placed in compulsory liquidation in 1996.

Roberts did not attend the tribunal but admitted his offences in writing.

These included a series of actions related to VAT evasion and the deception of one of the company’s banks.

Roberts was found to have brought discredit on the institute and was ordered to pay costs of £1,695.

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