Creditors of English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson (real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) have appointed a licensed insolvency practitioner to act as his Trustee in Bankruptcy to investigate any claims against him and seek to recover any hidden assets.
Robinson applied for bankruptcy shortly after his divorce in February 2021, and while libel proceedings were ongoing against him. A bankruptcy order was made on 3 March 2021. In July 2021, Robinson was ordered to pay £100,000 in damages, together with legal costs, on top of his bankruptcy debts, which are estimated at £2m.
The timing of the application for bankruptcy, coupled with the recent divorce and £700,000 house which was purchased in his ex-wife's name in November 2020, certainly raises questions about the distribution of Robinson's assets, which creditors will want to see investigated. Any disposal of assets pre-bankruptcy made with the intention to frustrate creditor claims could potentially be subject to challenge as a transaction at an undervalue or a transaction defrauding creditors under the Insolvency Act 1986. In this case, it appears that the creditors have agreed to fund the Trustee's appointment (at least initially) to ensure that the circumstances leading up to the bankruptcy application are thoroughly investigated.
Although Robinson is due to be automatically discharged from bankruptcy on 3 March 2022 (i.e. one year on from the date of the bankruptcy order), this is not a 'deadline' as such for the Trustee to conclude their investigations or recover assets. Any assets held (or claims relating to the disposal of assets) prior to bankruptcy will remain vested in the Trustee even after Robinson is discharged. If necessary, the Trustee could apply to suspend Robinson's discharge from bankruptcy, for example if he were refusing to cooperate with the Trustee's investigations or provide full and frank disclosure of his assets, in order to assist with his ongoing investigations.