Royal crimper gets in a tangle: Top hairdresser faces mass of disputes with contractors, who accuse him of not paying bills

NICKY CLARKE, the West End hairdresser whose clients include Lady Linley, the Princess of Wales and the Duchess of York, is involved in a trail of disputes with business associates and contractors who have accused him of not paying bills and failing to honour contracts.

The top people's crimper, who charges more than pounds 50 for a simple cut at his salon in Mayfair and has just launched a hair-care range sold in Tesco, is being accused of failing to pay contractors who fitted out his salon, and of withholding payments to consultants who worked on his hair-care range. Mr Clarke is challenging some of the claims.

Among those unhappy about their dealings with Mr Clarke and his wife, Lesley Gale-Clarke, are the top market research group Taylor Nelson and the leading aromatherapist Danielle Ryman. Both worked on developing the 'Nicky Clarke Hairomatherapy' product range.

Taylor Nelson told the Independent on Sunday that it had threatened the Clarkes with legal action before they paid the consultancy.

Ms Ryman's business partner, Farrol Kahn, said a contract was drawn up in which Ms Ryman provided a number of ideas and advice in exchange for the Clarkes commissioning products.

'They never took our products and never paid us for our advice,' Mr Kahn said.

Andrew Buchannon, a shopfitter hired to work on Mr Clarke's salon two years ago, says he has not been paid the pounds 45,000 he claims he is owed for the job. The Clarkes disputed the work done by Mr Buchannon and called in quantity surveyors, but their report was not conclusive.

The Clarkes are involved in a legal dispute with the company they worked with to develop the Hairomatherapy range. Couture Brands, run by a former senior executive at hair-care group Wella, sent out a statutory demand under the Insolvency Act after the Clarkes attempted to terminate a contract between the two sides in early August. The Clarkes said they were 'very unhappy' with Couture's handling of the contract.

Couture is demanding pounds 5,000 it says is owed from invoices sent to the Clarkes, and is also claiming another pounds 50,000 that it says is owed from the contract.

The Clarkes have replied with proceedings of their own. Last Friday they issued a writ against Couture, seeking a declaration that they lawfully terminated the contract, claiming payment of any 'secret commissions' Couture received while negotiating contracts and demanding damages for breach of contract, negligence and breach of confidence. Mr Clarke declined to comment.

(Photograph omitted)

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