10-year ban for ski instructor who risked children's lives

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The organiser of activity holidays for schoolchildren, exposed by The Independent last year over breaches in ski safety, was banned from acting as a company director for 10 years at the High Court yesterday.

The organiser of activity holidays for schoolchildren, exposed by The Independent last year over breaches in ski safety, was banned from acting as a company director for 10 years at the High Court yesterday.

Christopher Reynard, 59, who has been linked to a number of scandals including the 1993 Lyme Bay canoeing tragedy, was described by presiding judge Mr Registrar Simmonds as "wholly unfit, to a marked degree, to be the director of a limited company."

He added that it was a "serious case" and Mr Reynard had been an unsatisfactory witness who had been "disingenuous, equivocal and on some occasions untruthful."

The Department of Trade and Industry sought a disqualification order against Reynard as the managing director of Howglen Ltd, which went into receivership in 1996.

In a five-day hearing, Gregory Banner, acting for the DTI, said Mr Reynard was unfit to act as a director due to his misuse of company money, his failure to pay income tax and national insurance contributions on time and his breaches of trading standards legislation.

Mr Reynard had personally claimed £100,000 in fees in the last year of the company when it went bust, leaving many children without holidays. Mr Reynard also paid his then wife £1,000 a month, even though she had left the company.

The Judge said Mr Reynard's explanations of these payments were "another example of the defendant's dishonesty".

Mr Reynard's justification for trading while insolvent were so inadequate that the judge ordered an investigation into why legal aid money had been used to pay for his solicitor and barrister. The judge also said the case for a disqualification order was so strong that it should not have been contested.

Last October, The Independent revealed that Mr Reynard, from Wareham in Dorset, was still organising activity holidays using a new company and falsely claiming to hold ski-instructor qualifications while teaching children on the ski slopes. Teachers claimed the lives of schoolchildren on his ski trips to Switzerland were put at risk.

It was the most recent in a long history of complaints and legal actions over the safety and quality of holidays organised for youngsters by Mr Reynard.

A spokesman for the DTI said yesterday: "The judge's comments are a sign of how seriously Mr Reynard abused his position as a company director. Cases like this send a clear signal to other directors who are ducking their responsibilities."