Ten-year ban for agent who behaved badly

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The Independent Online
The former agent to Men Behaving Badly star Caroline Quentin was yesterday banned from running an employment business for 10 years after her agency went into liquidation owing more than pounds 480,000.

The maximum possible prohibition was imposed on Sharon Hamper at Southampton Industrial Tribunal at the end of a case brought by the Department of Trade and Industry's employment agency standards office.

Quentin (top right) was one of several celebrities - others included Lesley Ash (right), actor Craig McLachlan and television presenter Shaw Taylor - left badly out of pocket by the collapse of Ms Hamper's company last year. The four celebrities were owed around pounds 300,000, the rest of the debts being due to other creditors.

Department of Trade and Industry minister Ian McCartney said he was delighted by the judgment. He said: "These proceedings serve notice that the DTI will not hesitate to act against agencies behaving badly ... This Government will not tolerate exploitation of people at work. Employees in or out of the public eye deserve decent minimum standards of treatment by their employers or agents. This Government is determined to ensure that they receive it."

The minister served notice on any other unscrupulous agents to clean up their act quickly. "Agents who soft soap their clients whilst ripping off their cash will face severe penalties," he insisted.

The tribunal made two orders. The first was against Sharon Geraldine Toms-Smith, known as Sharon Hamper, and the second against her management company formerly based in Great Queen Street, London.The orders prohibit either Ms Hamper or the company from being concerned with any employment business for 10 years.