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Complainant Name:
Mr Gareth Hughes

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: News of the World

Complaint:

Mr Gareth Hughes, Deputy Chief Executive of the Marston Group, complained to the Press Complaints Commission that an article about the company's involvement in the recovery of a debt contained inaccuracies.

Resolution:

The complaint was resolved when the newspaper, while it did not consider that the article raised a breach of the Code, agreed to publish the following letter from the complainant setting out the company's position:

RE your March 21 article "Arrested, cuffed, shop emptied...for 193 debt". We would like to point out that the full amount due was 1,195, including our fees and costs, not 193. Goods were only removed on the fourth visit, eight months after the first. A payment arrangement was broken on multiple occasions and independent valuers confirm that only sufficient goods were removed to recover the sum due. Our client was a small business to whom cashflow is critical. Far from being the ‘ugly side' of the industry, Marston Group has been at the forefront of improving standards, and won the 2009 ‘Enforcement Team of the Year' award.

The following longer version of the letter was appended to the online version of the article:

I write with reference to your article "Arrested, cuffed, shop emptied.. for 193 debt", published on 21 March 2010.

We would like to point out that the amount due was 1,195, including our fees and costs, rather than 193, and goods were only removed on the fourth visit to the shop over a period of eight months. A payment arrangement of 50 per month had been broken on multiple occasions. Two independent valuers have confirmed that only sufficient goods were removed to recover the sum due. We rarely remove goods in practice. In this case, it was deemed necessary.

Our client was a small business. Cashflow is of critical importance to small businesses, and our role as High Court Enforcement Officers helps small businesses to stay in business by recovering amounts owed to them.

Far from being the ‘ugly side' of the industry, Marston Group ("Marston") has been at the forefront of improving standards, and won the ‘Enforcement Team of the Year' award in November 2009. Marston was described as "an incredibly professional business. Its lobbying and work in the industry also made it a clear winner in this category."

Date Published: 30/06/2010



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