Yet again Michael Stainer (pictured below) was absent and silent while a Tribunal case “with the potential for far reaching impacts upon our client’s life” took place at Folkestone Magistrates Court on April 26th and 27th. These words come from Mr Stainer’s former lawyer, Andrew Duncan as yet another part of the Stainer jigsaw takes shape.
Criminal investigations, tax investigators, insolvency practitioners, the threat of bankruptcy, the Official Receiver, angry mortgage lenders – what a full in-tray for Mr Stainer, what a real headache managing this jigsaw this must be!
The Tribunal was hearing an action initiated by the Association of Residents in the Grand for the appointment of a new manager and the imposition of a new management order with far-reaching powers.
This decision will only be made in around six weeks and these powers, if granted, and again according to Mr Duncan (pictured), could see the end of the holiday-let business conducted from the 19 flats owned by the Stainers. He claimed this closure would “load significant overhead onto the various commercial enterprises undertaken at the Grand, some of those enterprises might cease to be financially viable”. He stated elsewhere that: “…..the reality is that the commercial area of the Grand derives a significant amount of its income from Holiday lets.” He did not mention that the viability of the various commercial enterprises is already under terminal threat thanks to the multiple winding-up orders initiated by HMRC.
Curiously, these arguments were never presented to the Tribunal by Hallam Estates Ltd who ignored the entire proceedings. Mr Stainer and Mrs Stainer in their capacities as leaseholders were absent and their written submission ignored these issues. So where did we hear these arguments?
Here the plot thickens as Mr Duncan has ceased to represent the Stainers, and his arguments were put forward over some weeks in an attempt to secure an adjournment of the hearing. The basis of this application were the delayed medical consequences of the alleged assault that took place on Mr Stainer on January 26th. We say delayed because, to the best of our knowledge, Mr Stainer was in fine form around town in the days and weeks after the assault, attending the local Conservative Party AGM, visiting Germany and strolling along the Leas. Many mentioned within hours and days after the alleged assault how unblemished Mr Stainer’s face was.
It is not our place to comment on Mr Stainer’s medical condition, other than to say that the Tribunal refused the adjournment as the medical evidence was insufficiently persuasive. Furthermore, the respondent in this action was Hallam Estates Ltd who own the Grand, and not Mr Stainer who is merely an employee of the company. Hallam Estates Ltd were totally unrepresented and silent and we must ask their German owner and sole shareholder, Mr Peter Sarstedt (pictured) if he knew what was going on with his company.
But back to this assault. To date, one man has been arrested and released. However, in one astonishing revelation, Mr Duncan informed the Tribunal in the course of seeking the adjournment that:
“It is to be remembered that Mr. Stainer’s health problems are as a direct result of a criminal action undertaken by an individual who was, I understand sitting at the back of the Tribunal at one point during the previous hearing.” (In Jan 2018)
Now of course, Mrs Stainer (pictured below, left) and Mr Robert Richardson (pictured below right), as witnesses, were both in the Tribunal Chamber during the Jan case, to which Mr Duncan refers to above. So to was our our public face present throughout this previous hearing, and watched the individual who Mr Duncan refers to enter the tribunal chamber and leave the chamber. Within seconds of leaving, Mr Robert Richardson left the chamber too. Coincidence? Of course the three members of the Tribunal panel, the clerk to the Tribunal and some fifteen residents of the Grand, all saw the individual enter and leave too.
Mr Richardson claims to have seen CCTV footage of the incident when Mr Stainer was allegedly attacked; and shared images with the members of the Folkestone Area Partnership Against Crime (FAPAC). However not one person who was in the Tribunal has been contacted by the police despite been made aware of this “coincidence”. Separately, as of March 10th, six weeks after the assault, the police were still awaiting the hospital evidence relating to Mr Stainer’s injuries, described as “a severe beating, his injuries were bruises, broken eye socket and broken cheek bone”. No such evidence was submitted to the Tribunal in the abortive attempt to secure an adjournment. Nor were any photo’s forthcoming when requested by a local paper.
As ever, more questions than answers.
So, what about the hearing itself? One of the crucial parts of the new management order would see the freeholder Hallam Estates Ltd pay 25% to the service charge fund as against its current 3%. This burden would obviously fall on the commercial interests run by Mr Richardson who at present pay no rent and have no leases and make no money!
We note in June 2014, case reference CHI/29UL/LAM/2013/0019: Judge Norman stated:
“The continuing theme in this case is the failure by the respondent and Mr. and/or Mrs Stainer to make contributions they are obliged to make to the maintenance fund.”
In 2017, case reference CHI/29UL/LRA/2017/0001, Judge Tildesley OBE stated
“Since his appointment, Mr Hammond has had no success in collecting service charges from Mr & Mrs Stainer.”
He went onto note that:
“The previous tribunal found Hallam Estates had not met its reparing & maintenance obligations under the lease. The principal cause of this was the recurrent failures by Hallam Estates, Mr & Ms Stainer to pay their service charges, which continue despite the manager’s appointment.”
And at the latest Tribunal on the 26th & 27th of April 2018 Judge Tildesley OBE, the presiding Judge on the panel of three, counselled against any false optimism if the order was granted.
“The Stainers haven’t paid for 35 years, why should the future be any different”.
He also warned that the proposed order, albeit in draft form, was wide-ranging and could well be challenged on appeal, and that considerable thought should be given to ensuring that it would stand up under appeal. On that basis, he adjourned to await a re-submission in two weeks of the draft order that would address his concerns and that a final decision would be taken in around six weeks. The over-riding concern of the Tribunal was for the major works to commence as soon as possible. This would only be possible when the Stainer’s arrears debts of over £205,000, as confirmed in the January Tribunal and not appealed, were paid. However, the Tribunal expressed doubts as the capacity of the Stainers to pay, and the speed and willingness of a multitude of mortgage lenders to pay the Stainers’ debts on their behalf.
Life, so it seems, is never dull at the Grand!
The Shepwayvox Team – Dissent is NOT a crime.