People & Business: Liquidators in fashion

THE MAN currently sorting out the affairs of supermodels Claudia Schiffer, Elle Macpherson and Naomi Campbell has also in the past few years crossed swords with convicted fraudsters Darius Guppy and Roger Levitt, as well as property legend Godfrey Bradman.

Oh, what it is to be an insolvency practitioner! Once upon a time John Alexander, senior insolvency partner with Pannell Kerr Forster, and his ilk were regarded as little better than second-hand car salesmen by their accountancy brethren in audit and tax.

Since the last recession, though, the liquidators seem to get all the juiciest jobs. Yesterday Mr Alexander was appointed as administrator of Fashion Cafe, the supermodels' brasserie in London's West End.

Mr Alexander's previous jobs have been equally high- profile.He was trustee in bankruptcy to Darius Guppy, the old Etonian who was sentenced to five years in prison in 1993 for his part in a gems fraud.

Mr Guppy, a close friend of Earl Spencer, brother of the Princess of Wales, became one of the most famous prisoners in Britain. He and his partner staged a robbery in a New York hotel room in which a shot was fired and he was left tied up. The pair claimed pounds 1.8m compensation from Lloyd's of London for jewellery they claimed was stolen.

Mr Guppy was released this year after Mr Alexander helped him negotiate a repayment deal with his creditors. Mr Guppy is now back at work, although Mr Alexander would not be drawn on what it is he is actually doing. "Mr Guppy would prefer to keep a low profile," he said.

Mr Alexander was also liquidator of Roger Levitt's companies after Mr Levitt, an investment adviser, was convicted of fraud. Mr Levitt was then sentenced to 118 hours community service after a bizarre piece of plea bargaining with the Serious Fraud Office. He now pursues a career as a boxing promoter in the US.

Mr Alexander has also come into contact with people who have merely gone bust. He was receiver to Rosehaugh, for instance, headed by Godfrey Bradman, the legendary property developer who fell victim to the last property slump. Mr Bradman's biggest achievement, in partnership with Stanley Lipton's Stanhope, was the Broadgate centre in the City, subsequently sold to John Ritblat's British Land.

MIND YOU, thanks to the absurd way the Royal Courts of Justice are run these days, the Fashion Cafe almost didn't go into administration at all.

The process starts with the company submitting an administration petition to a High Court judge. As Mark Phillips, the barrister for the company, prepared to present his case to Mr Justice Rattee, the counsel's clerk appeared panting in Court 18 and said he had been unable to "present the petition to the court" because he had not been able to pay the court fee.

As Mr Alexander and his solicitor, Shashi Rajani of Nicholson Graham & Jones, searched their pockets for spare change, the sweating clerk explained that the problem wasn't a shortage of cash, but the location of the court fee office - at the opposite end of the High Court complex, a good quarter of an hours' round journey.

Mr Phillips was not amused, and advised his clerk to "keep trying". The young man shot off again down the Courts' labyrinthine passageways - to re-emerge triumphantly in time for the judge's hearing.

Mind you, the hearing itself was a model of efficiency, taking all of 60 seconds.

STEPHEN HINCHCLIFFE, the northern businessman who built a shoe-shop chain called Facia, only to see it collapse under a mountain of debt, is sick and tired of his poor image in the press.

Mr Hinchcliffe is convinced, rather like an unpopular political party, that if he could only get his real message across, people would understand his position. Last summer he decided to do something about this and contacted a leading City spin doctor.

The spin doctor told him: "Show me the six worst articles about you and we'll go through them to see what I could have done about them."

Mr Hinchcliffe then asked the PR man "How much do you charge?" The PR man replied: "pounds 500 an hour."

Mr Hinchcliffe gasped, and exclaimed: "I've just been walking through Oxford Street - don't you have a summer sale as well?"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
Life and Style
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - City, London

£50000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Service...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is the o...

Recruitment Genius: Administrator - IFA Based

£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions