Dragons' Den man Danny Bamping sues council for £5m
A businessman made bankrupt over non-payment of council tax has begun legal action against the authority for millions of pounds in lost earnings.
Danny Bamping, 40, appeared on Dragons' Den with his Bedlam Cube game in 2005.
But his business collapsed after Plymouth City Council issued a bankruptcy order in 2012. An ombudsman later said the council was at fault.
The council said it had worked "incredibly hard" to collect the tax in the "most efficient ways".
Father-of-one Mr Bamping, of Hillside Avenue, Plymouth, appeared on the BBC Two TV show Dragons' Den with his game which involves fitting 13 shapes into a box.
He refused £100,000 help from the Dragons, opting for a bank loan instead, but says his business which produced a number of games flourished.
He employed 15 people, selling his products "around the world", with a multi-million pound turnover.
In 2006 his firm Bedlam Puzzles was named Plymouth Business of the Year.
But in a row with Plymouth City Council he stopped paying council tax in 2009, saying it was in protest at landlords of student-occupied properties being exempt.
After a series of requests including sending in bailiffs failed, the authority issued a bankruptcy order against Mr Bamping.
Mr Bamping said his life had been "destroyed". As a result of being made bankrupt he had to resign his directorships and three companies were dissolved.
But he claims investors had already been "scared off" in 2011 when he received a statutory demand for the council tax from the council.
He said: "Investors were just about to invest in my companies. I had just signed a licensing deal with Coca-Cola.
"I was doing really well and had big accounts with major retailers. That was just taken away from me. Everything was whipped from my feet."
The local government ombudsman ruled, referring to Mr Bamping as Mr C, that the council was at fault for not publishing a "formal published debt recovery policy" and its "decision-making process was not adequately documented".
The ombudsman concluded: "I found that there was fault by the council in this case, but it did not lead to significant injustice for Mr C."
Mr Bamping, who is now discharged from bankruptcy and is hoping to restart the business, has started legal action to recover what he claims is more than £5m in loss of earnings and damages.
He maintains that he has suffered "significant injustice" and has issued a "letter of claim" to the authority, the first step in taking legal action.
He said: "I don't want to take anyone from the council to court but I want to find a financial remedy for damages because of what I suffered through their actions.
"There can never be an insignificant injustice. It had a massively devastating effect on my life."
The council said in a statement: "We encourage the simplest methods of payment for residents which are less likely to result in arrears, such as, payment through wages and direct debit.
"We ensure that swift reminders are issued if payments are missed and we have a robust debt recovery process that results in the majority of arrears being paid."