A ROGUE publisher - said to have made £1.6m through questionable sales tactics for safety booklets - has been shut down by the High Court.

Officials from the Insolvency Service say staff at community interest company The Prevention Foundation used ‘misleading’ ruses to persuade customers to part with sponsorship cash for anti-knife crime, anti-bullying and fire safety publications.

But the outfit’s way of working was found to mirror the activities of its previous incarnation, Safety Guide Ltd,which used to be run by Radcliffe-based businessman Matthew Ralphs .

Separate inquiries. according to the Insolvency Service, found both ventures would target small businesses with unsolicited phone calls, in a bid to secure sponsorship for safety guides, which staff said were being sent out to schools.

Insolvency officials caused Safety Guide to be wound up in the public interest, also by the High Court, in June 2020.

Ralphs, of Stand Lane, was given a 10-year directorship ban last December after questions were raised by government investigators over the provenance of income totalling £480,000, missing sales invoices and tax payments on £926,000 in commission and bonuses.

He resigned as a director from Safety Guide in January 2020, six months before the name was changed to The Prevention Foundation. The sole remaining director is Robin David Reid, 50, who worked out of Hamill House, in Chorley New Road, Bolton.

Insolvency Service officials insist The Prevention Foundation directors failed to co-operate with their probe and provide any company accounts or records which could explain their conduct.

The inquiry demonstrated that the company had ‘secured more than £1.6m by February 2021, but due to the lack of co-operation it was impossible to account for over £1 million worth of expenditure’.

District Judge Ed Beever agreed The Prevention Foundation should also be wound up in the public interest at a hearing in Manchester.

David Hope, chief investigator for the Insolvency Service, said: “This company abused its status as a community interest company. It used dubious sales tactics to elicit significant funds from small businesses without providing any recognisable community benefit."