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HomeFarming News21-year ban for couple who exploited agricultural workers
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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21-year ban for couple who exploited agricultural workers

A couple been banned from acting as company directors for 21 years after they exploited and abused agricultural workers.

Lincoln-based Simon Melville, 42, has been disqualified for 11 years, while his 41-year-old wife, Julie Melville, has been banned for 10 years.

They are now banned from acting as directors or directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.

Lincolnshire Recruitment Services Ltd was incorporated in June 2012, providing workers for the agricultural industry.

The recruitment firm, however, began to struggle and entered into creditors’ voluntary liquidation in August 2018.

Lincolnshire Recruitment Services’ insolvency brought the company to the attention of the Insolvency Service, who established that the Melvilles breached regulations intended to protect workers from exploitation.

Investigators uncovered that six months prior to Lincolnshire Recruitment Services’ collapse, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) inspected the recruitment firm in February 2018 before revoking the company’s GLAA licence.

Charged employees for safety equipment

Inspectors from the GLAA discovered that between July 2017 and September 2018, the Melvilles failed to make holiday payments to 186 employees.

They also charged employees for safety equipment which should have been supplied free-of-charge and did not provide employees with copies of their contracts.

The Melvilles failed to provide clients with formal terms of business and also disclosed employees’ personal details to third parties without consent. They allowed employees to transport staff to various sites without proper driving licences or insurance.

Through the GLAA’s inspection, it was also uncovered that Julie had acted as the principal authority under the terms of the recruitment firm’s GLAA licence.

The GLAA, however, had not formally authorised Julie Melville to act as principal authority as she had not sent in her application.

Julie concealed her position as principal authority from the GLAA during the regulator’s visit and only applied to the GLAA following their unannounced inspection.

Previous disqualification 

Insolvency Service investigators also found that Simon had been illegitimately running Lincolnshire Recruitment Services in breach of a previous disqualification.

Simon Melville had been disqualified for nine years in December 2014, following the collapse of Melville Agricultural Contractors.

After the company finished trading, Simon Melville withdrew £45,000 worth of cash which should have been used to pay Melville Agricultural Contractors’ tax liabilities.

Julie was aware of the ban but breached her own responsibilities as sole director by allowing Simon to run the recruitment firm behind the scenes.

Result

On October 9th, 2020, the secretary of state accepted a disqualification undertaking from Simon, after he did not dispute that he acted in breach of his prior ban and he caused Lincolnshire Recruitment Services to abuse the GLAA’s licensing regulations.

Simon Melville’s ban is effective from October 30, 2020. Julie’s 10-year disqualification began on October 9th.

She did not dispute that she allowed a third-party to act as a director and caused Lincolnshire Recruitment Services to abuse the GLAA’s licensing regulations.

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