Castle Promoters Stay Out Of Sight

The promoters of the disastrous Rock In The Castle extravaganza at Scarborough Castle are still keeping their heads well below the parapet, although an October 5 letter from the insolvency practitioners charged with winding up their company has left creditors in no doubt where they stand.

North Yorkshire Police have confirmed they’re also investigating the company behind the event, following complaints about non-payment from most of the acts on the bill and several companies that supplied services and equipment.

The note from Hull-based Jacksons Jolliffe Cork invites all creditors to file their claims against In The Castle Limited in time for an October 26 meeting at the city’s Quality Hotel Royal.

What will concern those creditors most is the fact the letter refers to the company going into “voluntary liquidation,” as opposed to any sort of administration, although the September 17 show’s gate receipts have been estimated at around £120,000.

“There must be some money somewhere,” Barry Sugden of Andrassy Marquees told Pollstar as it became clear that very few of the acts and suppliers have received any payments.

Feelings have been running high since co-promoters Andy Roberts and John Cooper failed to pay bills as promised, bounced or stopped cheques their company had issued, and then disappeared without leaving any explanation.

Sugden, whose company is owed £11,600 for the eight tents it supplied to the site, has already been arrested on suspicion of throwing – or getting his managing director Paul Young to throw – a brick through the window of Roberts’ coastal home at the seaside town of Filey. He was released when both men were able to prove they were somewhere else at the time.

Det. Sgt. Nigel Farthing of North Yorkshire Police confirmed his force has received a complaint from a scaffolding company about not being paid for its work, and a counterclaim from one of the promoters that says he’s been put under extreme pressure to settle the bills.

Farthing is liaising with the Crown Prosecution Service to see if In The Castle Limited (or any of its directors) has traded fraudulently, including when knowingly insolvent.

Matthew Bowker of Jacksons Jolliffe Cork said In The Castle Limited is filing for liquidation because it has insufficient funds to pay debts when they become due, although he’s still waiting for the company to supply a record of its income and how that income has been “utilised.”

“I need to know what’s happened to the money because the creditors will want a report on that,” he explained.

As far as stopping or “bouncing” cheques is concerned, he wouldn’t go beyond saying that it’s unlawful for a company to write cheques knowing there are insufficient funds to meet them. He said stopping them is also unlawful unless there are “serious grounds” for doing so.

Other companies saying “there must be some money somewhere” and forming a line to get to the would-be kings of the castle include Acorn Scaffolding, Greenwood Hire, Innovations Production, English Heritage (which rented the site), the local police and a list of acts including The Wildhearts, Terrorvision, Hanoi Rocks, Inme, The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Tokyo Dragons, The Glitterati, Johnny Panic, and Hurricane Party.

Bowker told Scarborough Evening News that there are probably “about a dozen creditors on the list at the moment,” but Pollstar enquiries indicate that number will at least double.

David Bailey, head of visitor ops for English Heritage, which is the government’s statutory adviser on the historic environment, said he’s particularly disappointed as the event had drawn a good crowd to the castle and – apart from the financial storm that’s blown up – was seen as a success in terms of attracting visitors to the landmark site.

“After what’s happened, I have every sympathy for all the acts and suppliers that haven’t been paid, but this hasn’t put English Heritage off the idea of doing similar shows at the castle in the future,” he explained.

Bailey confirmed that In The Castle Limited had been granted permission to run a series of outdoor shows at the 900-year-old monument, which overlooks the sea from the west Yorkshire coast. But that permission was withdrawn as soon as his organisation became aware the promoters had caused a lot of people some serious financial problems.

English Heritage has confirmed that it received about a third of its estimated £5,000 fee as a deposit, but a cheque for the balance hasn’t been honoured. The matter will now be passed to its legal department.

According to the Scarborough Evening News report, a North Yorkshire Police spokesman said the force provided a sergeant and six constables for Rock In The Castle and was not paid.

— John Gammon