Gail Bottomley and her son Darren Bottomley, directors of coach travel firm Gain Travel Experience Ltd (Gain) based in Bradford, West Yorkshire, have been disqualified for a combined 21 years from acting as directors for failing to protect customer money paid up-front for holidays and travel.
Following an investigation by the Insolvency Service, Gail Bottomley, aged 63, and Darren Bottomley, aged 43, gave undertakings to the Secretary of State for Business Innovation & Skills not to manage or control a limited company for a period of 11 years and 10 years respectively, effective from 22 April 2014.
The investigation showed that Gain Travel Experience Ltd began trading in the mid 1980s as a coach tour operator with a high proportion of repeat customers. As a tour operator offering holidays which included overnight stays, the company was bound by The Package Tour Regulations 1992, which are meant to protect customers by ensuring money paid for deposits and holidays are held in secure accounts. The Bottomleys were aware of these regulations but from at least September 2011, failed to protect advance payments by securing it in this way.
Robert Clarke, Head of Insolvent Investigations North, which is part of the Insolvency Service said:
"When directors of a company do not comply with legislation that is designed to protect customers, and avoidable losses result, the Insolvency Service will fully investigate the circumstances and take action where appropriate.
In this case, a significant number of elderly customers have been left out of pocket thanks to the Bottomleys disregard of protective legislation and it is appropriate that their disqualification is for a significant period of time.
The investigation found that when the company was placed into liquidation in June 2012, there were 653 customers who had paid up front and lost a total of almost 220,000; the vast majority of these customers being pensioners. Customers also lost out as the company, having had its credit/ debit card facility withdrawn in late 2011, asked customers to pay by cheque or in cash.