String of County Court Judgements against police commissioner candidate
A PUBLICAN bidding to be the new Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner has had a string of County Court Judgements against him for debts.
According to documents from the Registry Trust seen by The Herald, 13 County Court Judgements (CCJs) against Tam Macpherson, pictured, were listed on October 28. The debts totalled almost £200,000 and date back as early as 2007.
Under the Police and Crime Commissioner rules the judgements do not disqualify Mr Macpherson, who runs the Clipper Inn in Union Street, from standing in next Thursday's election.
He told The Herald this week that the majority of the judgements had been settled, and blamed "inaccuracies" in the record.
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The largest judgement, for £118,189, was in favour of pub chain Scottish and Newcastle.
The Herald was unable to get a comment from the company, with a spokesman saying it was "a civil matter".
Mr Macpherson said the debt had been converted into a second charge on his property.
InBev UK, which was owed £58,259, told The Herald that the debt had been settled.
Other items listed included debts to a finance company, solicitors and a firm of accountants.
Mr Macpherson said three of the listed cases were still going through the courts.
Mr Macpherson said some of his debts arose after the 2008 economic collapse when his banker called in loans.
The judgements were listed by the Registry Trust. Mr Macpherson said he had not realised that he had to take positive action to have cleared debts removed from their list, but was now doing so.
He said that at one point he ran four licensed premises in Plymouth – the Beresford, the Clipper, the Counting House and the Blue Room. He also had property in Plymouth and elsewhere.
He had since sold off most of his businesses, except the Clipper.
"I had to consolidate and basically came down to the Clipper and three associated properties.
"The fact is the majority of businesses, large and small, experience civil disputes, guarantor liabilities and employment tribunals," Mr Macpherson said.
"There are inaccuracies but of course it is easier to make the allegations than to defend them.
"High street banks ring-fenced many in the hospitality trade and retail sector, then swiftly called in loans. In 2008 I was holding a portfolio in property, land and bars. It is well documented the dire straits the pub industry now finds itself in. I, as a business and individual, have not been immune.
He said his 10 years of experience provided him with a knowledge greater than most in public service and politics "who have little or no experience of the cold realities of business".
Mr Macpherson said he did not regret standing in next Thursday's election.
The contact he had had with the regulatory authorities, in particularly the police and their current resourcing issues and interaction with residents and businesses, further broadened his knowledge base. That, combined with "13 years of exemplary service in the Royal Marines" was the experience he brought to the debate and ballot card.
Talking generally about firms with CCJs, Sue Wilkinson, development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses in Devon, said: "I would say most of my 7,000 members don't operate with a string of County Court Judgements against them. It's not the norm."
And David Parlby, chief executive of Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, added: "I take a very dim view of businesses that have a string of County Court Judgements against them. It's punishing other businesses and it's a huge drain on the system."
LABOUR's candidate, Plymouth City Councillor Nicky Williams, yesterday defended accusations of a potential conflict of interest in her bid for the role.
Cllr Williams sits on the police and crime panel, which will oversee the commissioner's work.
But she said she would step down from the panel if elected.