NL Media investors seek judgment over assets

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The Independent Online

Investors are expected to apply soon for a court order to seize the assets of Graham Gutteridge, the former chairman of Non-League Media, who is accused by the company of borrowing nearly £600,000 from company funds.

Yesterday, Non-League was again forced to suspend its shares, which trade on the Alternative Investment Market. The company has had to re-examine its accounts for the year ended 30 June, after it discovered missing funds. It was not able to complete this task by a 31 December deadline.

Non-League, which produces football magazines and counts Bobby Robson, manager of Newcastle United, among its directors, said it hoped to complete the new audit by 18 January and the shares, suspended at 3.5p, would begin to trade after the accounts were posted to shareholders. Non-League was floated at 24p in June 1999.

Mr Gutteridge left the company in November last year, after which Non-League revealed that it had discovered that Eye Group, a company controlled by Mr Gutteridge, had borrowed £569,000 from Non-League in 1999 – £292,000 of which was not shown in the accounts. It also discovered that £272,000 of the loan was put towards the purchase of a house for his wife, Sariah Smalley, in Acton, West London.

A High Court order froze £1.25m of his assets and he tried unsuccessfully to overturn this order last month. Now, a legal challenge led by investors in Eye Group, will seek a summary judgement from the courts to recover assets from Mr Gutteridge, including the Acton property.