A man has become the first person prosecuted in the UK for registering false company information after a stunt he organised to demonstrate the weakness of enforcement.
Businessman Kevin Brewer registered two companies, in 2013 and 2016, with government ministers listed as directors and shareholders – in a bid to show how easily false information can be registered.
The first, John Vincent Cable Services Ltd, named the former Business Secretary Vince Cable as director and shareholder.
The second, Cleverly Clogs Ltd, named Baroness Neville-Rolfe, the minister with responsibility for Companies House; James Cleverly MP; and an imaginary Israeli national, Ibrahim Aman, as directors and shareholders without their knowledge.
Mr Brewer notified the ministers and the press at the time of both company registrations in a bid to highlight how easily false company information can be registered with Companies House.
However, he was instead charged with breaking section 1112 of the Companies Act 2006, which came into force in 2009.
Mr Brewer pleaded guilty and has now been fined £1,602 and ordered to pay costs of £10,462.50 and a victim surcharge of £160.
In a government press release issued following the prosecution, Business Minister Andrew Griffiths claimed the outcome showed “the Government will come down hard on people who knowingly break the law and file false information on the company register”.
Mr Griffiths added: “Companies House works hard to protect and continually upgrade the company register, identifying potentially criminal activities and working closely with law enforcement bodies to help bring those perpetrators to justice.”
However, a viral Twitter thread highlighting Mr Brewer’s campaign work has helped to precipitate a social media backlash against the prosecution and the government’s “boastful press release”.