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Unite calls for probe into company boss over unpaid furlough payments

A PROBE into a company boss was demanded by Unite today after he allegedly claimed Covid-19 furlough payments for his workforce without passing them on.

The union said that Nicolas Marks, boss of Preston-based caravan builder Lunar Automotive, owes workers £170,000 and has forced them to use foodbanks to survive during the pandemic.

Unite wants HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to investigate the “elusive” boss over the missing money.

The union said today that Mr Marks had “gone to ground” and that Unite had 27 outstanding employment tribunal claims against the company, including breach of contract and unlawful deduction of wages.

Unite understands that the company was evicted from its Preston site for failing to meet its commitments to the landlord and has now decamped to Blackpool 14 miles away.

Mr Marks’s activities were raised in the Commons recently by Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith over a social enterprise called Clarity Products, which he took over a year ago and which employs workers with disabilities.

The former Tory leader said that many of the “decent, but very vulnerable people” at Clarity had not received their wages nor support for childcare, and national insurance contributions had not been paid. The sum totalled £200,000, MPs were told.

Unite regional officer Dave Kennedy said: “The affairs of Lunar Automotive and its elusive owner Nicholas Marks are raising serious questions about what has been happening; not only have our members not being paid since last August, but a great deal of the hard-pressed taxpayers’ money needs to be properly accounted for.

“We are still calling for HMRC and the Pensions Regulator to conduct urgent investigations into the affairs of Nicholas Marks.”

Lunar Automotive has been contacted for comment.

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