Sorted: Minerva's Wreck; BOOK SHARK'S BUSINESS FOLDS

The Mirror (London, England), July 26, 2002 | Go to article overview

Sorted: Minerva's Wreck; BOOK SHARK'S BUSINESS FOLDS


Byline: Andrew Penman & Michael Greenwood

SQUEALING like the stuck pig he so closely resembles, Peter Hamblin saw his nasty business empire laid bare this week.

Hamblin ran a publishing company which has collapsed with debts of pounds 2.6million and assets amounting to not much more than some secondhand desks worth about pounds 5,000.

We revealed earlier this month that his Leicester-based firm Minerva Press had stopped answering its phones. Now it is officially in liquidation.

Minerva had been one of the biggest vanity publishing outfits in Britain, only accepting authors who paid to have their books printed. Without decent promotion books didn't sell and the authors were paid no royalties.

Hamblin was desperate to stop Sorted covering the meeting of furious Minerva creditors held on Tuesday. Spotting our photographer, he growled, "Tell the f***er to move." Recognising Penman from a previous encounter, Hamblin barred the way.

He was unimpressed when Penman pointed out he was acting as a proxy for an absent creditor.

"I don't give a s**t, you're not coming in," said the charmer.

No matter. Greenwood was already inside, as proxy for four other creditors.

In the packed conference room at the Holiday Inn hotel in Leicester, author after author told how they had been ripped off and their dreams shattered.

They've now been approached by another firm, Upfront Publishing Ltd, which says it has the books on digital files which it will sell back to the authors for pounds 117 each.

Since Minerva had a list of 10,000 authors, this could net Upfront more than pounds 1million.

Cynics will not be surprised to hear that these two companies are closely linked.

Greenwood revealed to the meeting that Upfront was formed by Hamblin's common law wife Stephanie Fletcher, is run by a former Minerva employee and pays rent to another company which is owned by Hamblin. …

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