One of Britain’s top retailers will stand trial on Monday accused of helping his father and chairman of the business forge a bank statement to hide a £1.5m loan from the defunct retailer’s board.
Stuart Jones, the son of JJB Sports’ former executive chairman, who was the firm’s head of marketing, is charged with aiding and abetting the use of a false instrument, contrary to the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981. His Honour Judge Kearl QC will oversee the trial at Leeds Crown Court.
The trial of Jones’s father, Sir David Jones, was abandoned indefinitely last April because of his ill health. Sir David, who suffers from Parkinson’s, denied two charges of making a misleading statement, contrary to the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, and one charge of using a false instrument.
Stuart Jones is seeking to have the trial quashed, claiming it is an abuse of process to try him now that his father is not being prosecuted. If the judge rejects Jones’s argument, the trial is expected to last a maximum of two weeks.
The prosecution at the previous trial alleged that Sir David forged a bank statement in 2009 with the help of his son to disguise a £1.5m loan from Dave Whelan, JJB’s founder and the owner of Wigan Athletic FC, when Sir David was heavily in debt.
Sir David was also alleged to have borrowed £1.5m from Mike Ashley, the founder of Sports Direct and owner of Newcastle United. The result was that JJB put out misleading statements when it was trying to raise £100m from financial markets, the prosecution said.
Sir David revived Next in the early 1990s and was brought in to do a similar job at JJB as executive chairman as the sports chain’s fortunes wained. The company went into administration in September 2012 and was dissolved two months later.
In December, Chris Ronnie, the former chief executive of JJB, was sentenced to four years in prison for a £1m fraud at JJB in 2008. Ronnie took three large loans from suppliers of JJB and failed to declare them to the JJB board.
Sir David joined JJB in October 2008, and became executive chairman in January 2009. Ronnie quit as chief executive in March 2009.
This article was written by Sean Farrell, for theguardian.com on Sunday 8th March 2015 19.24 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010