NEWS: Boss who faked insolvency to avoid 274K safety fine given six year ban

The boss of a construction firm who told courts he was unable to pay a health and safety fine for the horrific and life changing injury of an employee, but who continued trading under a new company, has been issued a six year ban.

In an investigation by the Insolvency Service, published today on the government’s website, it tells how Mr Allen, 64 of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, had been director of Allen and Hunt Construction Engineers Limited. The firm was a ‘specialist’ manufacturer and builder of steel-framed agricultural and industrial buildings.

The case dates back to July 2014, when a person working for Mr Allen’s firm was carrying out repairs on a farm building in Buxton. The person fell through the roof and suffered life-changing injuries.

Allen and Hunt Construction Engineers had failed to carry out health and safety plans for the site in Buxton, HSE found in its investigation of that incident. The firm did not properly train the employee to carry out fragile roof work and the equipment they had used was inadequate and insufficient for the risks posed.

Allen and Hunt Construction Engineers Limited was found guilty at Derby Crown court in November 2016 for three breaches of the work at height regulations. The fine was £274,671 with £7,750 costs to HSE.

However, the firm went into liquidation in December 2016 and Michael Allen told investigators that it could not afford to pay the fine.

But further investigations by the Insolvency Service found that after the accident and to allow for a clear division between fabrication and installation activities, a new company was incorporated in October 2014.

The new company carried out fabrication services, while the installation side of the business was wound down.

The investigation also found that if the fabrication contracts had remained within Allen and Hunt Construction Engineers Limited, the original company, there would have been sufficient funds to pay the fine.

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy accepted a disqualification undertaking from Michael Allen.

Effective from 27 June 2018, he is now banned from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company for six years.

Dave Elliott, Chief Investigator for the Insolvency Service, said: “Michael Allen had a lack of regard for the workers, which unfortunately resulted in a horrific injury for one person.

“Directors who fail to adhere to health and safety regulations to protect their employees and then fail to pay the fine can expect to face the consequences of a period of disqualification.”