Framed By The Frogs

CHAPTER 29
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I knew from the moment Renault launched its legal action that, whatever the outcome, I would lose pretty much everything I had.

The ‘no smoke without fire’ maxim would be applied to me irrespective of whatever the Court decided. Win or lose, Renault would still succeed in closing down my business, with all of the associated consequences.  And Renault’s real intentions for my fate were made quite clear to me in two ways.

 

First there was the stunt pulled by Renault employee Carolyn Sample.  Once Renault had set itself on the course of destroying my business the obvious route was through the other car manufacturers that I dealt with. 

If Renault could stop other manufacturers from selling cars to me then that would cut off my ability to generate profits to fund a legal team to defend me. Smart. But mean, downright mean. 

 

The opportunity for Renault to do serious damage to my business presented itself to Carolyn Sample when she canvassed other car manufacturers about their dealings with me at the meeting of the Association of Car Fleet Operators that I mentioned earlier in the book.

Carolyn Sample's actions put the writing on the wall as far as I was concerned, demonstrating quite clearly that Renault wasn’t suing me for straightforward commercial purposes.

 

Think about it for a moment.  Renault had benefited from the sale of hundreds of vehicles through the BALPA account, knowing that the cars were not going to eligible buyers.  There must have been a fundamental change in the mindset at Renault's UK Head Quarters about using corporate accounts to do this sort of business.  Maybe it even went all the way back to Renault's World HQ in Paris.

As a result, Renault in the UK now obviously wanted to disassociate itself from something that I had originally been asked to do by a Renault employee.

 

Now, if you are in Renault’s position and you have changed your policy, what you could do is say to me ‘Look, we’re sorry, but that’s not our scene now, we’re closing the BALPA account.’, then shake my hand and say ‘Thanks and so long’. 

Instead, Renault took the rather extreme, vindictive and malicious route of suing me.

 

And the way in which the case was pursued said only one thing to me – it was being done to preserve reputations and career prospects for people at Renault. 

Why do I say that?  Well, originally Renault justified its demands for repayment by alleging that what I had done was a breach of contract.

 

It wasn’t until I pointed out to Renault that they didn't actually have a contract with me that Renault alleged fraud in an attempt to justify a legal claim against me.

This contrivance by Renault didn’t escape His Lordship’s notice; it was mentioned specifically by him at the Judgement Hearing. It was, I’m sure, a contributing factor towards his scathing remarks about Renault when handing down the final Judgement.

In addition, that Renault was able to find lawyers willing to plead fraud for them before the Court in such blatantly manufactured circumstances probably didn’t really do the credibility of the company or its lawyers any favours at the Trial either.

 

So Renault only alleged fraud to have some basis in law for suing me, no matter how tenuous.

Which leads on to the second point.

Renault knew that I didn’t have one million pounds to hand back to them, so recovering the money couldn’t have been the reason for the case, and this was confirmed for me in a brief conversation with Renault's barrister Andrew Bruce of Serle Court Chambers. 

Remember the first case management conference before Master Foster?  After the meeting at the High Court, in an attempt to try and get the Claim resolved by some other, more amicable means, I spoke to barrister Andrew Bruce in the corridor outside the Master’s Chamber.

 

It was awkward for Andrew Bruce to speak, as he was used to dealing with other barristers rather than directly with a defendant.  In the normal course of events barristers have conversations on a ‘without prejudice’ basis to test out options for resolving cases and they use these conversations to push back and forth proposals for settling outside the Court process without either side being committed.

 

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I told Andrew Bruce that, leaving aside the issue of who would win the case, his client must know that it had absolutely no chance of recovering any money from me, that I knew there must be some alternative agenda behind the Claim, but that it would only result in Renault spending a fortune to make a point and that, with what I knew about Renault and the things that go on in its subsidiary dealer operations, no one, least of all Renault, would come out of the case smelling of roses.  Surely, I asked him, we could reach an amicable resolution without going through a Trial?

 

Given the circumstances, Andrew Bruce couldn’t have been more direct in his reply.  Andrew Bruce told me that his client fully understood my financial circumstances, and I could therefore read whatever I wanted into it, but his client would not be dissuaded from going to Trial, no matter what the prospects of a financial recovery might be.

 

So that was it then.  From as close to the horse’s mouth as you could get without being bitten.  It wasn’t the money.  It never had been.  It was all about hanging me out to dry to protect the tender arses of a bunch of self-serving hypocrites at Renault’s HQ.  They had known what was happening all along, but would use duplicity and a trumped up fraud allegation to cover up their part in what had really taken place.

 

And so, knowing all of this, I vowed that when all of the Courtroom antics were over I would do whatever it took to expose the hypocrisy and double standards that had been applied by Renault simply to spare the blushes of some of its managers.

 

But how to get my story over?  I’m not Renault, so I can’t afford to take out pages of advertising in the Press for publicity about the Trial. And speaking of publicity about the Trial, there has been none.  No publicity at all from Renault.  All that has appeared are some observations in lawyers’ tomes on obscure legal issues raised by the Trial.  With the exception of one very brief statement to a reporter from a car magazine, there has been absolutely nothing from Renault about the case outcome.  Presumably Renault would like the whole thing to go away quietly and expire without a sound.

 

Fat chance, Renault.  If the reptiles running your business think that they can take a corporate decision to destroy someone for their own company political ends, then lose the fight and just quietly slip back into the swamp, they have another think coming.

 

I have lost my family home, my business and my personal reputation, all to save the necks of Renault employees, so there is absolutely no way that I can let Renault or its employees off the hook. 

But without the financial resources to publicise what really happened, there's only one thing to do. I just have to take the long way round.  So I have written this book.  This book is the only way I can exorcise the peculiar feelings of malice, repugnance and yet, despite all that they have done, pity that I feel for both Renault and the despicable, malevolent people there who tried to destroy me.

 

I have to tell everyone the whole story from my side, with all of the detail and, most especially, set out the extent to which Renault had actually been prepared to go to protect its own people at my expense.

 

Perhaps Renault considered that the cost of artificially manufacturing a public crucifixion for me would be a small price to pay to preserve the reputations and salvage the jobs and careers of those who had previously been only too willing to go along with the sale of cars under the BALPA account?  After all, what’s a million pounds to a multi-billion pound global empire like Renault’s?

 

But then again, where did that one million pounds come from to begin with? 

Well, the answer, of course, is you, if you have ever bought a new Renault car or had a Renault serviced. 

You see, Renault took your money for your car, or your spare parts, and the money of many, many, other of your fellow Renault customers and then squandered hundreds of thousands out of the profit they undoubtedly made from you on their legal fees to try and destroy me.  Just think about that next time you buy a car.

 

So where to next for me?  Well, the end of this book isn’t actually the end of the story.  No, not at all.  You see, as I’ve rather sadly decided after the cowardly 'no-show' by Renault’s employees at the Judgement Hearing, life’s too short for forgiveness. 

And, quite frankly, I have found that you can have a lot of fun being bitter and twisted especially when, like me, you know where more of the bodies are buried. 

It’s show-time ….


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