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?"

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
news
News
i100
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Travel
Fair trade: the idea of honesty boxes relies on people paying their way
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Business Analyst (Agile, SDLC, software)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Finance Manager - Bank - Leeds - £300/day

£250 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Finance Manager - Accountant - Bank...

Compliance Officer - CF10, CF11, Compliance Oversight, AML, FX

£100000 - £120000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading fi...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary