The disqualification follows an investigation by the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) into the supply of rolled lead to the construction industry.
It found that Associated Lead Mills (ALM) and HJ Enthoven (trading as BLM British Lead) had broken the law by entering into anticompetitive arrangements.
The two companies, both based in Hertfordshire, together account for a sizeable proportion of UK rolled lead supplies. They admitted last year to forming an illegal cartel. This included breaking the law four times between October 2015 and April 2017 by colluding on prices, sharing the rolled lead market by arranging not to target certain customers, and arranging not to supply a new business because it risked disrupting the firms’ existing customer relationships. Each of the arrangements included exchanges of competitively-sensitive information.
The companies were fined more than £9m between them last November. [See Roofing suppliers fined £9m for collusion, 4/11/20]. Now action has been taken against the three individuals behind the collusion.
Graham Hudson and Maurice Sherling were directors of ALM at the time the illegal activity took place; Jocelyn Campbell was a director of BLM.
Jocelyn Campbell also sought to conceal his communications with competitor businesses by using a different mobile phone from his main one, in the period from December 2016 until the launch of the investigation in July 2017. This only came to light when the CMA seized the phone.
Maurice Sherling admitted to suspecting that ALM was breaching competition law and receiving competitively-sensitive information from a competitor (Jocelyn Campbell at BLM) but doing nothing to stop it.
Jocelyn Campbell is disqualified for 6.5 years, Graham Hudson for 4 years and Maurice Sherling for 3 years..
Michael Grenfell, executive director of enforcement at the CMA, said: “It’s an important responsibility of company directors to ensure that their companies don’t engage in illegal anti-competitive practices, which can lead to higher prices for customers.
“The CMA has clear evidence that these directors either knowingly entered into illegal arrangements and communications, or were aware of them and did nothing to stop them. That’s why these measures are needed. This should be a message to all directors – if your company breaches competition law, you risk personal disqualification.”