From IC Wales
The owner of a sex
shop located next door to the constituency office of Welsh Secretary Peter Hain has created a legal conundrum by making his 15-year-old son the sole director of his company and his 13-year-old daughter the company secretary.
Piet Manca, who opened
Little Amsterdam next to Hain's office in Windsor Road, Neath, last December, is fighting 14 allegations made against him and his firm by the trading standards department of Neath and Port Talbot Council.
The businessman, who was born locally but
until recently ran a similar shop in Blackpool, claims he is being victimised because his premises are an embarrassment to the politician and his staff.
Little Amsterdam sells sex aids and paraphernalia associated with recreational drugs. Manca is
planning to open a similar shop in Aberystwyth on October 1, and runs an associated website that sells goods by mail order.
Neath Port Talbot Council's trading standards department alleges that unlicensed videos called Bi-American, Dreams, Stories
of Seduction, 7 The Hardway and Hardcore Training were sold from the Neath shop on specified dates in March and April this year. Two further charges allege that videos were sold purporting to have an 18 certificate when in fact no such
certificates were held. All seven charges have been issued against Manca personally and against the company Little Amsterdam Ltd. (So are the council proving the harm that these videos would cause as required by the European Convention of Human Rights?)
Manca said, The company has been dormant since I set it up several years ago in Blackpool. My former partner Hayley Lewis was the director and her mother Ena Price the company secretary. There are only two £1 shares and they each owned one of them.
Now papers have been signed to make my son Antony, 15, the sole director and my daughter Laura, 13, the company secretary. The point of this is to give them some financial security in the future. But it also makes a nonsense of the charges
brought against the company. The council won't be able to pursue them in court.
Both my children get £40 a week pocket money and they do some bookkeeping work for the business. I checked out the legal position and found there was no minimum age
for a company director. All the charges will be defended. I believe we are being victimised because we happen to be next to Peter Hain's office. Our's is a legitimate business. We do not sell unlicensed videos from the shop - the material found by the
trading standards officers were samples we had been sent by suppliers.
When people buy from our website they are sent their items from the Netherlands, so we are breaking no laws.
Through the Federation of Small Businesses we are
engaging Rowe Cohen, top solicitors from Manchester who have represented the family of Stephen Lawrence and Mohammed Al Fayed. We don't want to go to a local magistrates court, we want to be tried in a crown court before a jury.
A spokesman for
Neath Port Talbot Council said, We wholly reject the suggestion that we are in some way targeting this shop because of its proximity to the MP's office. We have regulatory responsibilities and take those very seriously. This prosecution is being
undertaken in line with those responsibilities. It would be inappropriate to comment further, other than to say that the progress of the case will be determined by the court.
The shameful Peter Hain could not be contacted for comment, but has said
he found the location of the shop next to his constituency office "unacceptable".
A spokesman for Companies House in Cardiff confirmed there was no lower age limit for company directors.