A husband and wife from Lincoln who exploited agricultural workers have been banned from acting as company directors for a total of 21 years.
Lincolnshire Recruitment Services was founded in June 2012, providing workers for the agricultural industry, but Simon Melville, 42, and his wife Julie, 41, have been disqualified for 11 and 10 years, respectively.
The recruitment firm began to struggle and entered into creditors’ voluntary liquidation in August 2018.
However, investigators from the Insolvency Service uncovered that six months prior to the company’s collapse, it had been inspected by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) in February 2018 and had its labour recruitment licence revoked.
The GLAA discovered that between July 2017 and September 2018, the Melvilles failed to make holiday payments to 186 employees, charged employees for safety equipment which should have been supplied free of charge and didn’t provide employees with copies of their contracts.
The couple also did not provide clients with formal terms of business, they disclosed employees’ personal details to third parties without consent and allowed employees to transport staff to various sites without proper driving licences or insurance.
Mrs Melville concealed her position as principal authority in the business and only applied to the GLAA following their unannounced inspection.
Insolvency Service investigators also found that Mr Melville had been illegitimately running Lincolnshire Recruitment Services in breach of a previous disqualification.
Mr Melville had been disqualified for nine years in December 2014 following the collapse of Melville Agricultural Contractors. After the company finished trading, he withdrew £45,000 cash which should have been used to pay the collapsed company’s tax liabilities.
His wife was aware of the ban, but breached her own responsibilities as sole director by allowing Mr Melville to run the recruitment firm behind the scenes.
Mr Melville did not dispute that he acted in breach of his prior ban and he caused Lincolnshire Recruitment Services to abuse the GLAA’s licensing regulations. His ban is effective from 30 October 2020.
Mrs Melville’s 10-year disqualification began on 9 October after she did not dispute that she allowed a third party to act as a director and caused Lincolnshire Recruitment Services to abuse the GLAA’s licensing regulations.
GLAA head of regulation Nicola Ray said: “Our investigators found eight breaches of our licensing standards, four of which were serious enough on their own to cause the company to automatically fail the inspection.
“We are pleased with the disqualification undertakings and hope they send a clear message that we will continue to work in partnership to protect vulnerable and exploited workers.”