A year ago, we called Michael Stainer A Grand Fantasist and a Grand Failure. Now, as yet another legal defeat batters the sinking Michael Stainer empire, is it time to call time on the grand adventure that has cost taxpayers and Grand residents hundreds of thousands of pounds over many years?
As we reported on October 5th, a humiliating High Court judgement confirmed the earlier decision that made freeholder, Hallam Estates Ltd, liable for over £70,000 per annum towards the maintenance of the building, and put control of all the residential areas solely into the hands of the Tribunal-appointed manager, Alison Mooney.
An even more recent judgment confirmed that Hallam were also liable for £9,600 in costs for the Association of Residents of the Grand (AORG) arising from this original case. The reason for this award? The unreasonable behaviour of Michael Stainer as a director of Hallam.
Meanwhile, the condition of the Palm Court has reached crisis levels, as this image shows.
So what happens next? Both of these debts are Court-determined and if unpaid, could lead to the liquidation of Hallam Estates Ltd, if the creditors choose that route. If that were to happen, what happens to the building? Back in 1995/6 when Stainer’s creditors called time on him, the building was repossessed and the liquidators, Coopers Lybrand sold it for £148,000 to………………. Hallam Estates, incorporated in the nick of time in December 1995.
At that time, Stainer had no legal connection with Hallam. That didn’t formally commence until December 2000, exactly five years after it was formed. However, a careful examination of the company formation documents shows that they were completed in the inimitable handwriting of……. Michael Stainer.
We suspect that both liquidators and residents would be far more careful this time around.
Of course, we have to recognise that Hallam Estates might come up with the cash………
Now look at the cost to residents of Michael Stainer’s antics over the last 7 years. He doesn’t come cheap!
Look at the legal costs spent since 2014, when the residents first went to court to remove Stainer and his agent, Fell Reynolds from responsibility for the residential areas and the service charge account. Since 2014, right through to the last Judicial Review, some £140,000 has been spent fighting Stainer and Hallam. During that same period, some £300,000 in unpaid service charges were racked up on the 19 flats the Stainers owned, while they ‘earned’ up to £2 million gross in income from their holiday let business based on those same flats.
In total, some 11 cases in the First Tier Property Tribunal and the High Court have gone against him, usually in terms that have been as condemnatory of his conduct as one can imagine. The last High Court appeal was dismissed as “totally without merit”.
With all of that history of failure after failure, no wonder his apologists are celebrating and misrepresenting his one ‘victory’, the collapse of the private prosecution launched against him. This was initiated after an email was sent from Michael Stainer’s email account at the Grand to some 30 local figures including our MP and Council leader, containing serious allegations about the chairperson of AORG, including the falsification of court documents, fraud, racism and stalking. There is no doubt that this email was sent. According to the Kent Police’s Professional Standards Department report into the police investigation, “during conversations with him”, Stainer never disputed the sending of the email and “the basis of Mr Stainer’s defence or beliefs were established”. This investigation ignored successive Court determinations that rejected in their entirety every one of his allegations.
Misguided as this prosecution might have been, and District Judge Barron had found there was a case to answer, the simple fact is that Stainer published statements that were knowingly and provably untrue. For reasons still unclear, he was never challenged in formal interview by the police, the Crown Prosecution Service chose not to proceed and so it never went to Court, other than in to recover the costs incurred by Stainer. So, he never had to justify or defend his actions and he refused even to cooperate with the police by attending a voluntary interview. We know why: he had no defence.
As Stainer had no apparent defence, he resorted to relentless trolling via “his” anonymous proxy Twitter account @larrycorbusier. We say “his” on the basis that information was tweeted that was only available to Stainer and his Cardiff-based defence team. On one occasion “Larry” tweeted about a Court hearing date known only to the Stainer team and on another bragged about the level of costs they were seeking. In fact, the costs recovered fell well short of the claimed amount.
Equally troubling is the way Stainer’s chums stand by their man. Within hours of three Grand residents meeting with Damian Collins MP to express their concerns at the slowness of the Insolvency Service’s attempts to recover assets and investigate Stainer’s conduct as a bankrupt, Collins and Stainer are photographed arm in arm at the annual Conservative Party Dinner………. at the Grand. No wonder angry residents bombarded Collins’s inbox the next day, and here’s his stock reply:
“I am often approached by members and guests at the annual Folkestone and Hythe Conservative Association dinner, to ask if we can have a photograph together. It was the same this year, and it puts me in a very difficult position in a very public place if I accept when some attendees ask, but decline for others, especially when they have been allowed to buy tickets to the event and are active members of the local Association. This in no way should be seen as an endorsement by me of anyone in particular.”
Did Michael Stainer buy a ticket? Is he still an active member of the local Association? Did the local Association pay for the hire of the facilities and its dinner?
The Shepwayvox Team
Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful