A Labour MP has accused former Lyndale Group chief executive Michael Quinlan and chairman Sandy Birnie of plotting the reorganisation in the Group’s affairs that led to Lyndale Foods Ltd going into administration.
In a House of Commons debate, MP for Hayes and Harlington John McDonnell said leaked minutes from a Lyndale Group board meeting in 2005 showed the pair had been "considering and discussing such changes for nearly three years". McDonnell said that, at the 2005 meeting, the board had discussed rationalising the business down to a single new bakery in Bolton or Liverpool, and had discussed the possibility of staff redundancies at that time.
He continued that Lyndale Foods went into administration on 9 June, with the loss of 450 jobs. Sayers bakery was closed, along with 41 stores across the north west and Sayers headquarters. Quinlan and Birnie had already formed a new company, Sayers the Bakers, which bought back 158 Hampson and Sayers stores as well as Hampson’s bakery in Bolton. The Peter Hunt bakery has since closed down, as administrators BDO Stoy Hayward failed to find a buyer.
McDonnell said Lyndale had shown a "lack of consultation, lack of information, lack of dialogue with the union and a lack of proper dialogue with individual MPs". He added: "I believe that we are dealing with a scam. It was planned over time by the same personnel who are now benefiting from it - Mr Quinlan and Sandy Birnie."
McDonnell has asked the minister for employment, Pat McFadden, to launch an inquiry into the matter. McFadden said he was happy to meet with MPs if they wanted to raise further issues about the situation.
Birnie refuted any suggestion of wrongdoing. "There is no truth whatsoever in this, we’ve invited Members of Parliament to repeat what they’ve said outside the protection of the House and they haven’t."
Birnie added that the unions were lobbying the Labour party to change a lot of laws and that he and Quinlan had simply been "caught up in the middle".
"I think people have forgotten that we saved 1,500 jobs," he said. "I have never heard of a firm being criticised for saving jobs."