Harry Mottram reports for Print Monthly
Threats and intimidation may not be the stock in trade of most in the printing industry but they appear to be the weapons deployed by one notorious print broker.
For more than two years Print Monthly has reported on ‘the Bonny and Clyde of the print industry’ as they take cash off unsuspecting customers for printing books and magazines leaving a trail of unhappiness in their wake. The victims are often first time self-publishers who look for a cheap printer online, quickly find one of the websites run by Neill Malcolm Stuart John and his partner Clair Hunnisett and order their print. Their mistake is always the same: to pay money up front. The print if it arrives at all is usually past deadline, wrong or short in numbers. Getting their money back is either impossible or involves a long drawn out process where part repayment may or may not happen. Or they have to take their case to the small claims court costing them time and money.
Since the ‘blackmail’ case of the author Trevor Montague who confronted Hunnisett at her home which led to a puzzling court case in which the writer was given a restraining order the duo have been emboldened. Take this letter they sent to another victim this month: “Dear Ms X. Please find attached a restraining order issued on April 24th 2018 against a defendant who behaved such as you have now publicly done. We have informed the authorities about your attempted blackmail and bullying. We’ve had our investigations by the highest authorities in the land and there is no more case for us to answer but legal consequences are coming for you now as they have for him. We’ve provided them with your contact information also. Regards Mal. Printing Press (Central Head ) Units 71-75, Shelton Street, London, WC2H 9JQ. Printing Press (Regional) Unit 272 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4JR.” If nothing else one suspects ‘Mal’ of having failed English Language GCSE at school.
Ms X has requested her money back after the failure of The Printing Press to actually print anything she can use. As is the norm with ‘Mal’ (one of his aliases) he points to his terms and conditions to wriggle out of all responsibility but still banks the cash. Both addresses on his email are apparently for show as ‘Mal’ works from his home in Barry as he has no printing presses of his own. He references the uneven BBC report of the Trevor Montague case as though the courts have given him the all clear and are willing to support his argument. Note in the ‘blackmail’ case John did not win any damages or costs and the case did not address the disputed money or print job so Mal’s claim that ‘the highest authorities in the land’ endorse his position is nonsense. The case was about Montague and Hunnisett’s meeting in Barry. A few days ago another victim took John to court and got back every penny they were owed and has encouraged others to do the same. Their tip was simple: gather all your evidence, diary all dealings with ‘Bonny and Clyde’ and present your case professionally to the court.
The letter sent to Ms X has now formed the basis of a letter John sends to anyone who complains about their lost cash or incorrect print jobs. Many victims have told this publication that John becomes aggressive and rude on the phone when complaints are made or simply fails to communicate. Print Monthly’s advice is not to approach the couple but to use the legal system to seek justice. Threats and attempts to silence this publication by the couple are studiously ignored as they are bluffs – as well as their charge that the stories are all ‘lies’.
In the meantime the couple continue to ply their trade changing the name of their website again. This publication understands John is now trading as The Hardback Printer Ltd, company no 11338184 along with a new web page http://www.bestpress.co.uk which is exactly the same design as his Houseprint, Best Printer, The Book Printer and all the other ones. John is still registering the web addresses to Universal Printing Corporation (Houseprint) company no 8087273.
Ian Carrott of the print credit intelligence group who warn members about rogue traders says he has never known anything like this before. He comments: “I’ve come across a few rotten apples in the business but they usually disappear when the media exposes them. But this is incredible. To do the same ‘dodgy’ business practice under different names for month after month is something I’ve not seen before. Sooner or later he will pick on the wrong person and that will be his nemesis.”
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