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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Jim Budd

Claret web company James Hewitt Associates (JHA) was formally wound up in the High Court on 30 October. Adrian Francis, counsel for the DTI, described JHA as a phoenix company'; an immediate successor with only minor differences' to Liquid Acquisitions Ltd, which was closed by the DTI in January 2002. Winding up the company, Mr Registrar Baister said: It was a successor company, or so close as to be immaterial, to Liquid Acquisitions and involved in the same sort of dishonest wine investment business.' Almost two years have been spent closing down the two companies. The DTI does not keep records of the cost of its company investigations but, taking into account the time involved, legal costs, as well as the expert evidence required, the DTI's costs may well be in excess of 70,000. Meanwhile, a new company, Churchill Wines Ltd, has emerged. This was formed in July 2001 with Malcolm Hills as the sole director. Hills used to be the company secretary of JHA, until he resigned in August 2002. It seems likely that Churchill Wines started trading around this time, when it changed its registered office. I don't want to be tarred with the same brush as James Hewitt Associates,' Hills told Harpers. I fell out with James Hewitt because I did not approve of his business methods.'