Stranded by a silent rescue service

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MOTORISTS who took out a policy with Nationwide Roadside Rescue got a shock when they found the freephone breakdown number was out of order, writes Corinne Simcock.

There was worse to come. When they rang the company's new offices in Newbury, Berkshire, they found that managing director David Hamilton and his staff were no longer there. 'Hamilton had asked for all documents relating to my insurance claim so he could take up the battle on my behalf,' said Rupert Smythe, a London production manager. 'But when I rang to find out what was happening, I was told nobody from NRR had been seen since 1 May.'

Mr Hamilton had even changed his ex- directory home phone number, but the Independent on Sunday managed to trace him. He blames investors, who he says let him down, for the failure of the business.

It seems negotiations are now under way for a salvage operation by another vehicle recovery company, Hardy Components, based in Middlesex.

Existing members should soon be receiving a letter to give them a contact number that they can use for the time being. 'All documents relating to NRR are with my lawyers and accountants,' confirmed Mike Hardy, managing director. 'As long as the company turns out to be kosher, I will take over and honour the commitments made to NRR members.'

Rupert Smythe, an Independent on Sunday reader who took up the special pounds 45 annual membership offer, has since received a call from Mr Hamilton explaining what has happened and offering him his money back.

'I told him to keep it and carry on with my case,' he said.