in the back
A meaty recipe for indigestion
Jamie Oliver, Issue 1466
Jamie Oliver, who is hanging on to the St Paul’s branch of Barbecoa under a controversial ‘pre-packed’ deal
SOME of multimillionaire TV chef Jamie Oliver’s claims to high ethical standards and valuing small local producers are ringing a little hollow to those suppliers left out of pocket by the collapse of his Barbecoa meaty restaurant venture.

Oliver opened the first Barbecoa near St Paul’s Cathedral in 2010 and set up a new one on Piccadilly last year, by which time his ex-City trader brother-in-law Paul Hunt had been running his restaurants for three years. The later Barbecoa didn’t fare too well, and last month the company that owns the restaurants, Barby Ltd (owned by Oliver), was placed in administration.

Unpleasant taste
Since Piccadilly was the basket case, the chirpy chappy neatly set up a new company, One New Change Ltd, to buy up the viable St Paul’s outlet under a so-called “pre-packed” deal. Such arrangements are controversial at the best of times, as they can leave owners with the juicy assets and creditors in the lurch. But when they are executed by somebody worth £150m (according to the Sunday Times Rich List), they leave a rather unpleasant taste.

While Oliver has agreed that his wider business empire will fund the redundancy payments of 78 staff losing their jobs, Barby Ltd’s administrators say that around 150 unsecured creditors can expect to receive less than 1 percent of what they’re owed. This leaves a wide range of organisations, companies and traders out of pocket. So the Westminster council taxpayer is deprived of £493,000, while a host of small producers, craft breweries and other suppliers are left with four- and five-figure losses. One told the Eye it was a “bit galling”.

Total unpaid debts will come to around £6.5m, including £3.5m owed to HSBC bank, or around 4 percent of Oliver’s reputed wealth. That’s a pukka deal for a celebrity chef, but one that leaves plenty of others burnt.

More top stories in the latest issue:

An appeal court ruling on Libor rigging may have awkward implications for the Serious Fraud Office in the case of UBS and Citigroup trader Tom Hayes, whose conviction is now under review.

Why campaigning Tory MP Sir Peter Bottomley is demanding an inquiry into years of Met police persecution of former sergeant Gurpal Virdi.

Privy Council judges in London are split in an alarming decision not to allow an appeal by a prisoner facing execution in Trinidad.

At the second inquest into the death of Sean Benton, painful testimony emerges of the final hours of the young army recruit who died at the barracks in 1995.

A complaint by the European Commission shows how woefully unprepared the UK tax authorities are for life outside the EU customs union.

The decision to privatise the work of specialist firefighters who protect military bases is postponed again – but unlovely Serco and Capital are still in the frame.

The cheeky law firm that knows all about the dangers posed to brand owners by what it calls ‘trademark trolls’.

Full round-up from the front line as the strike over pensions at 64 universities rolls into its fifth week.

Scottish government forestry grants to wealthy landowners are rewarding big estates that boot out small farming tenants and replace them with… trees.

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Private Eye Issue 1465