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Mike Smallman yet to pay former staff of Aycliffe business despite employment tribunal ruling
TWO former employees of self-styled ‘serial entrepreneur’ Mike Smallman say they are still waiting to be paid after successfully winning an employment tribunal case over wages they never received.
Barbara Gillett and Julie Fodden were left struggling to pay the bills after being finished by Mr Smallman, whose venture APM Clothing Developments has left a string of angry creditors in its wake.
The experienced seamstresses subsequently took their cases for one and-a-half month’s unpaid wages to an employment tribunal and the businessman was ordered to pay £1,537 each to them. But six months on from the tribunal judgement in April the money is yet to be paid.
Mrs Gillett, 37, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, said: “When did it become legal to have someone work for you and not pay them?
“Anybody with a conscience would not have done this. The ones now paying the price are his workforce and his clients.”
Mrs Gillett and 47-year-old Ms Fodden, from St Helen Auckland, who were taken on by Newton Aycliffe-based APM in September and October respectively last year, said they were not given contracts because Mr Smallman claimed he did not believe in them.
Both women were paid their wages in the first few months of their employment, but in December last year Mr Smallman said they and two other women employed as ‘sewing ladies’ would have to be laid off because of problems with the business.
They were given £100 each to tide them over Christmas, but warned by Mr Smallman that he did not have enough money to pay them their remaining wages.
Mrs Gillett said: “If it was not for my family helping me out financially I would not have coped.”
Meanwhile, Ms Fodden was forced to seek a reduction in her mortgage payments since she was no longer receiving a regular wage.
Both women have now found work, but are still bitter about their experience.
Earlier this month The Northern Echo revealed that Mr Smallman – a convicted fraudster who was jailed in 2008 following the collapse of his Middlesbrough-based National Distance Learning College venture – had received death threats after APM ceased trading.
The 50-year-old, who has been the director or secretary of more than two dozen dissolved companies, was unrepentant when asked if Mrs Gillett and Ms Fodden would get their money back.
He said: “If they had done their job right in the first place we would not be in this position.
“They are in a queue and it’s a big lump of people.”
The businessman, who lives in Richmond, North Yorkshire, claimed he had recently been made homeless as he could not pay his rent, but had still managed to pay out 14 “partial refunds” to customers of APM who were owed money.
He added: “I am under massive stress, being persecuted from every angle, but still trying to get the job done.”