Court threat to Proctor over shop accounts

Fran Abrams,Political Correspondent
Sunday 23 October 2011 08:55

Fran Abrams

Political Correspondent

Harvey Proctor, the former Conservative MP, could face prosecution for failing to submit accounts on his shirt shop for the past two years.

Thirteen high-profile Tories including the Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine, bought shares in Cottonrose. Lord Archer, the former Conservative Party vice-chairman, was also among the investors who helped Mr Proctor to set up his shop in south-west London after he was forced out of Parliament 10 years ago.

When it last published its figures in March 1994, it was pounds 150,000 in debt. Companies House has confirmed that if Mr Proctor does not deliver the past two years' accounts by April 4 he is likely to be prosecuted under the Companies Act. The case would be heard in a magistrates' court where the maximum fine for failing to submit accounts is pounds 5,000. If Mr Proctor does file accounts in time, he is still liable for a possible late payment penalty of pounds 1,000.

Among the other investors in the company are several who have since faced scandals themselves. Tim Yeo, member for Suffolk South, was embarrassed by revelations that he had an illegitimate child, while Neil Hamilton, MP for Tatton, faced allegations that he accepted cash for questions. David Ashby was deselected by his Leicestershire North West constituency after losing a libel case over allegations that he was homosexual.

Other Tory MPs who put money into Mr Proctor's company included Mark Lennox-Boyd, David Heathcoat-Amory, Richard Shepherd, Sir Nicholas Bonsor, Philip Oppenheim and Michael Brown. Another investor was David Lightbown, the a former Conservative whip who died last year.

Leapsquare, the public affairs consultancy run by the MP for Welwyn Hatfield, David Evans, also put money into the company.

Mr Proctor, former MP for Billericay, said that he had not submitted accounts for his shop in Richmond because difficult trading conditions had left him unable to pay his accountant. Many other small companies had the same problems, he said.

"It has been quite a struggle to survive. It has not been helped by press comment every six months that we are closing down," he said.

"The newspapers treat this company as though it was ICI. Take your tanks off our lawn, please," he said.

Mr Proctor left Parliament in 1987 after facing court charges relating to his homosexuality.

Neil Hamilton and his wife Christine, who both hold shares in the shop, were there four years ago when Mr Proctor was attacked by two men who were later jailed for the assault. Mr Hamilton sustained a broken nose when he tried to help his friend.

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