Charity's factory printed porn: Spastics Society investigates 'embarrassing' production of explicit sex magazines

THE SPASTICS SOCIETY yesterday admitted it had no idea that a factory it owned had been printing hard-core pornographic magazines. But the society denied that this oversight and the company's first ever redundancy programme of disabled workers was due to mismanagement.

The Newton Products factory was established 28 years ago in Birmingham to give work to disabled people and make money for the society. But the business, which assembles powered and manual wheelchairs, has made considerable losses over the past three years. Of the 34 redundancies to be made this month out of a workforce of 104, 27 are disabled workers.

The charity's national spokeswoman, Martine Brent, insisted none of the disabled workers were to be made homeless as a result of moving out of a hostel linked to the factory. 'In order to turn the business around it will mean redundancies for some disabled people, which is particularly painful for a charity like us,' she said.

Ms Brent admitted the society was deeply embarrassed when it learnt about the factory printing legal, but explicitly pornographic Dutch magazines. One - Original Bitch - features sado-masochistic and lesbian scenes, and another, Creme Direct Contacts, contains half-dressed women offering sexual services and telephone numbers. 'We are not going to try and defend this. It . . . is very much to be regretted,' Ms Brent said. The charity has launched an investigation.

The society, which has a turnover of more than pounds 70m a year, has also brought in a new general manager, Fred Duffield, at the Birmingham factory to turn the business around. In both 1991 and 1992 it lost pounds 500,000, and last year pounds 600,000.

The former production manager at the factory, Allan Sharp, who was made redundant in January, insists, however, that many of Newton Products' problems were due to mismanagement. 'They were wasting a fantastic amount of money. In one case there was pounds 350,000 worth of scooters stockpiled which they could not shift.'

He added that the company had been paying accountants pounds 135 a day and consultants pounds 200 a day which he described as 'obscene' when the average annual pay of the workforce was pounds 6,300.

Ms Brent admitted the purchase of the scooters was a 'bad purchasing decision'. But Ms Brent blamed the financial problems on tough economic conditions and the outdated wheelchair lines which the factory was finding increasingly difficult to sell.

Elizabeth Lamb, 46, who suffers from cerebral palsy, is to be made redundant after working at the factory for 27 years. She and her disabled husband, Terry, who is to keep his job at Newton Products, will be pounds 300 worse off a month. 'I am very bitter about it and very angry. We shall have to manage, but it's going to be very hard.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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 General

Ashdown Group: Account Payable Assistant - SW London

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Account Payable Assistant - SW Londo...

Recruitment Genius: Bathroom Showroom Customer Service / Sales Assistant

£14560 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Even though their premises have...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Manager

£44000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Marketing company based in cent...

Recruitment Genius: IT Installation / Commissioning Engineer - North West

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An IT Installation / Commission...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
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