7 Days Remaining

Thursday 1st
posted by Morning Star in Britain

Company was liquidated owing thousands to workers and the taxman

by Poppy Noor and Conrad Landin

A COMPANY connected to the wife of a Tory MP went into liquidation owing a six-figure sum to staff and the taxman, the Morning Star can reveal today.

Official records at Companies House have raised questions over Design 55, whose director, secretary and majority shareholder Elaine Wilkinson is married to Calder Valley Conservative candidate Craig Whittaker.

The furniture and homeware firm owed a total of £302,319.64 to HM Revenue and Customs and £17,491.32 in notice and redundancy payments to employees when it was placed in voluntary liquidation last year.

The company had only £17,817.95 to make good its £355,102.53 in liabilities after it had paid wage arrears and holiday pay.

In an interview with the Yorkshire Post in 2005, Ms Wilkinson said she had “lost count” of the number of homes she had bought and sold on.

According to company records, after Design 55 was liquidated, Ms Wilkinson set up another company called Want Gifts Limited.

Its profile on the Amazon website says Want Gifts offers “contemporary designer furniture, lighting and home accessories at discounted prices.”

Approached for comment by the Star, Calder Valley Labour candidate Josh Fenton-Glynn said: “In situations like these, it’s disappointing that staff have lost out on the money that they’re owed.”

Rob Holden, a former Tory councillor and vice-chair of the local Conservative association who is now standing against Mr Whittaker as an independent, said: “I was absolutely incensed that a Member of Parliament could be linked to such dealings.

“How can you trust a representative at Parliament when his partner has that on her tax record?”

On his website, Mr Whittaker advises that an area on which he might be “best able to assist” constituents is with “tax problems involving the HM Revenue and Customs department.”

The MP has previously driven around his constituency in a sports car with his face printed on the side, and claimed his walk-in wardrobe was almost as big as an NHS staff room.

Ms Wilkinson could not be reached for comment, with no numbers listed in the telephone directory for the various addresses she supplied to Companies House.

The phone number advertised for Want Gifts appeared to have been disconnected.

Mr Whittaker’s campaign confirmed receipt of the Star’s requests for comment, but did not respond.