Darlington’s celebrity security firm has gone bust – with about £300,000 owed to creditors, and employees claiming wages were left unpaid.

Sparta Security, headed up by ex-welterweight boxer and born-again Christian Francis Jones, hit the headlines in 2015 when it featured on the fly-on-the-wall series Rent-A-Cop.

But nine years after the Darlington-based Sparta Security featured on the docuseries, the company has called in liquidators to dissolve the business, and former employees are claiming they are owed thousands. 

Responding to the Echo's request for comment, owner Mr Jones said "unprecedented economic challenges have been unrelenting", forcing the business under when "time ran out". 

Francis with a Bentley, an asset added to the Sparta Security business in 2020. 

Mr Jones has instructed Begbies Traynor, the British restructuring firm, to liquidise the company.

Documents on Companies House show that Sparta Security owes about £300,000 to creditors, in unpaid wages, and in invoices from contractors and service providers. 

Louise Littlewood, the former office manager at Sparta Security, says she left the business when it became clear it would be going into liquidation - but claims that she is yet to see the £6,500 she is owed.

She said: "He's just been allowed to run out debt - and workers have got the short end of the stick."

Arshad Jillani, a former taskforce manager, was also on the payroll at Sparta Security. When the company went into liquidation, he was owed just under £3,000. He says that debt has been reduced to £978, but pay installments stopped.

He said: "I don't think I will ever be seeing that money - I spoke to Francis's wife, and she said they didn't have any money to pay me."

Francis Jones with wife Rachel. 

Ryan Wildeman, a disgruntled subcontractor at Sparta Security, claims he has been left thousands out of pocket by the business's economic failure.

He said: "Lots of people have been left out of pocket, and he's left people in a bit of a tough spot - people have mortgages and families to support."

A close protection officer, and dog unit specialist, Ryan estimates that he is owed about £8,000 for unpaid jobs before deciding to cease work with Sparta Security earlier this year. 

In a statement to the Echo, Mr Jones said that some allegations are "simply untrue". 

Mr Jones has two other security firms, advertising services such as personal protection and event security. One of his other companies, Quality & Expert Services Limited, was incorporated in August last year.

Mr Jones said: "Like many small, independent businesses, the unprecedented economic challenges we’ve faced in recent years have been unrelenting.

“Having worked around the clock to try and preserve both the business and jobs, time unfortunately ran out and the situation has sadly become untenable.

“However, many of the problems were brought on by the actions of former staff, some of which had a catastrophic impact on the business.

"These actions cost The Sparta Security Group vital clients and caused enormous stress to myself and my family.

"During these times, my faith in Jesus has been essential as He has helped us so much and even blessed us in this time of hardship.

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“Where possible, I’ve taken steps to reimburse people where I can – including making payments out of my own pocket. However, several allegations put to us by former employees via The Northern Echo are simply untrue.

“Some staff who claim they were owed money had either quit or stopped turning up for work. One even resigned via text message.

“Despite that, I’m committed to repaying creditors and I’m working with the likes of HRMC through this long and complicated process.”