Belfast Telegraph

Deal anger as builder to pay only 37% of debt

By Margaret Canning

Angry creditors of builder Ken Campbell - who gave Iris Robinson £25,000 which she handed to her young lover to start a business - stormed out of a meeting after a deal was accepted which will see him repay just a percentage of his debts.

Mr Campbell was not at yesterday's meeting attended by around 25 creditors, reportedly because he was admitted to hospital that morning.

He faced bankruptcy if the deal was not accepted, with his business J&K Campbell owing £2.1m to Ulster Bank and nearly £1.7m to around 200 unsecured creditors.

Mr Campbell had presented creditors with a proposed voluntary arrangement, which could see creditors repaid around 37%.

That proposal was first voted on at a meeting last week which was adjourned until yesterday after an inconclusive result.

After announcing that 76.5% of creditors had voted to accept the proposal - just over the requisite majority of 75% - insolvency practitioner Walter Lismore, who will be supervisor of the arrangement, said every creditor had had the opportunity to vote.

He said some of the 150 creditors who voted had instructed him to vote on their behalf as a proxy.

But he was challenged during the fiery meeting yesterday about whether votes cast against the proposal last week were included in yesterday's vote.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Lismore said: "I'm not actually aware of any creditor who voted 'no' not having the opportunity to vote again.

"A number who voted 'no' last week changed their vote and issued a proxy to me as chairman to vote for the proposal."

One creditor said the process of counting the votes was "seriously flawed".

One man who is owed £46,000 said: "There was obviously a lot of canvassing done after the meeting last week.

"Not getting the money we are owed may not put us out of business but it doesn't help us."

But one of the main creditors had indicated their willingness to accept the proposal ahead of the meeting.

In 2009 Mr Campbell loaned £25,000 to then-Strangford DUP MP and friend Iris Robinson, the wife of First Minister Peter Robinson.

She gave the sum, and £25,000 from now deceased developer Fred Fraser, to Kirk McCambley who used the money to set up the Lock Keepers Inn cafe on the Lagan tow path in Belfast.

£1.7m

The approximate amount owed by builder Ken Campbell to unsecured creditors. He will only have to pay around 37% of this sum after a deal was struck at yesterday's meeting

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