- By ITV News Business Producer Joanna Partridge
Controversial entrepreneur Gavin Woodhouse lost control of more of his business empire following a High Court hearing on Monday.
Justice Alastair Norris granted insolvency practitioners from Duff & Phelps powers to remove Woodhouse as a director of his subsidiary companies, over which they have already been appointed as interim managers, after he heard Woodhouse had been withdrawing tens of thousands of pounds from a bank account he had kept secret from administrators.
The insolvency practitioners had already been given control of five of Woodhouse’s companies at High Court hearings earlier in July, taking away his powers as a director.
An ITV News/the Guardian investigation had previously revealed that many of Woodhouse’s projects to build care homes and acquire and refurbish hotels had stalled, raising questions about what has happened to millions of pounds he raised from amateur investors.
The ITV News/the Guardian investigation:
- Businessman's track record causes major concerns for £200m adventure resort
- Legal action begins over unfinished projects which have seen millions disappear
- Executives resign from company at centre of ITV News and Guardian investigation
- Gavin Woodhouse loses control of three businesses
- Investors lose £500,000 after 'disastrous' collapse of Woodhouse hotel deal
- Serious fraud office assessing Gavin Woodhouse businesses
During Monday’s ruling, Justice Norris said: “It appears that Mr Woodhouse has been seeking to extract from subsidiary companies further monies from accounts which were not disclosed to the interim managers as being accounts in which NPD Group has interests.
"These accounts appear to be hotel operating accounts at Barclays, whereas the rest of the banking is done with NatWest about which the interim managers were told.”
The judge was told that in recent days Woodhouse had made two withdrawals of £20,000 from the account, “apparently for payment of legal expenses and for transfer to his personal account”.
Justice Norris also froze Woodhouse’s personal assets. During the hearing he stated: “Gavin Woodhouse and his wife [Charlotte Woodhouse] enjoyed a salary of £280,000 per annum, which if funded from the relatively meagre income of NPD Group, has left the NPD Group looking to future investors to cover the shortfall.”
Justice Norris added that the court had only heard “one side of the story”, as Woodhouse hadn’t yet had a chance to explain himself to the court.
During three separate hearings this month, interim managers have been appointed by the court to run Woodhouse’s companies - his holding company Northern Powerhouse Developments, his adventure resort group Afan Valley Ltd, two care home companies MBI Clifton Moor Ltd and MBI Hawthorn Care Ltd, as well as his hotel holding company Giant Hospitality.
In the first court hearing, Judge Sally Barber stated that Woodhouse appeared to operate a “thoroughly dishonest” business model.
Woodhouse’s barrister declined on Monday to comment on behalf of her client. He has previously denied wrongdoing and insisted investors will be repaid.