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News and Comment September 2012

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13 September (Part 1) - If it looks too good to be true, it probably is

A reader tells me I didn’t look hard enough for the author of the Star Letter featured yesterday. A Bob Bedwell, and I doubt there are many of them in Sidcup, stood for election to Bexley council in both 2006 and 2010. So was the letter in praise of the owner of Cafe Blanco a bit of ‘insider dealing’? The flaw in the argument is that Bob Bedwell stood for the Labour Party and one might have guessed that the cafe owner linked as she is to the Campbells would be inclined the other way. But when did that stop a political hook up of convenience? Surely you’ve not forgotten Sandra Bauer (Labour) and Melvin Seymour (Conservative) who worked so hard at stitching up Olly Cromwell?

I am also reminded that my reference to the Campbells and the pub in Bean did not reveal a lot even after linking back to the July blog. Time to come clean.

In front of me is a file of papers, some on Dartford council notepaper, others relating to the County Court, one from the Guild of Master Victuallers, another from the drink wholesaler Maison Maurice and some bearing the signature of Mark Campbell of Bexley Cabs fame.

The Black Horse Inn, BeanThe situation appears to be that the landlady of the Black Horse in Bean got herself into serious debt and had to get someone to take over her lease and the debts. The Campbells rode to the rescue. Mark and his father, Colin Campbell the deputy leader of Bexley council, are both recorded as being involved both before and after the takeover.

By all accounts Mark Campbell made a pretty decent job of running the pub and the outgoing landlady should have been happy. However she had made one very silly mistake. So anxious was she to get away from the stress of managing a debt ridden business that she allowed the Campbell takeover before the dotted line was signed. With a foot firmly across the threshold no signature was ever forthcoming, nor allegedly was the money. Meanwhile Mark Campbell improved the pub, spending money on its fabric and turning it into a profitable business. Bad as that might be for the landlady, debts continued to pile up and the debtors were knocking at the door of an outwardly successful pub. Eventually the new ‘owner’ walked away and guess who was left with the additional debt? None other than the original landlady who, without the requisite signature was still the legal leaseholder.

In law the Campbells have probably not done a thing wrong. They gallantly offered to take over a pub, they improved it and presumably took a little reward for their efforts. How very unfortunate that the bills were ignored. When the game was up they moved on. Nothing wrong with helping someone out for a while is there? Nice people.

The landlady is now much further in debt than she ever was before and the leaseholder is breathing down her neck and not the Campbell’s. All because she thought she had found some good Samaritans and ignored the advice to not allow Mark Campbell in before he paid.

The file includes some interesting witness statements which I should point out have not been tested in court.

• The landlady claims the agreed price for the lease was £80,000 and that the debts to be paid amounted to £66,000.
• A letter signed Mark Campbell accepts the agreed price was £80,000. (The money is said to have been due to come from the sale of property in Spain.)
• The landlady claims that Mark Campbell failed to pay the brewery anything for a minimum of four months.
• The Master Victuallers confirm that Mark Campbell took over the lease but failed to sign for it and that they advised against it.
• The drink industry supplier Maison Maurice confirms that Mark Campbell did not pay their bills and that cheques bounced.
• The local postmaster who had loaned the cost of a new boiler states he was given a cheque only after a four month delay and then had a phone call saying he must not present it.

Maybe the salesman from Maison Maurice was right when he wrote “I have been in the licenced trade for over 40 years and I have never met such a lying duplicitous person as Mark Campbell. He owes money to several people who believed his lies and it cost them dear. He is a total con man”.

Mark Campbell had earlier tried to take over another Black Horse Inn. The one in Sidcup that was demolished to make way for a Waitrose store that never was. The deal with Campbell fell through when the owners decided to sell its Sidcup premises to developers.


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