Herts metal companies formed an illegal price-fixing 'cartel'

ALM in Hoddesdon

Maurice Sherling, who operates from a St Albans office address, was a director of Associated Lead Mills Ltd (ALM) in Hoddesdon. - Credit: Google Streetview

A businessman who operates out of a St Albans office has been banned from serving as a company director after his firm colluded in a price-fixing "cartel”.

Maurice Elliot Sherling is a director of Associated Lead Mills Ltd (ALM) – one of the UK’s biggest suppliers of rolled lead, used in roofing.

ALM conspired with another company in Welwyn Garden City, which has also had a director disqualified.

Companies House lists Mr Sherling’s correspondence address as an office building called Faulkner House, in Victoria Street, St Albans.

He is a director of 17 companies, nine of which are also registered at Faulkner House.

But he will be banned from directing any company after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found ALM “broke competition law by forming a cartel in the construction industry”.

In 2017, the CMA began investigating ALM and another company called H.J. Enthoven Ltd, which trades as BLM British Lead in Peartree Lane, Welwyn Garden City.

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BLM director Jocelyn Campbell had set up a second phone to communicate with two ALM directors, instead of using his business phone.

After seizing the phone, investigators found hundreds of calls between the directors and “text messages evidencing an agreement and/or concerted practice to share the market”.

BLM British Lead in Welwyn Garden City

Jocelyn Campbell, who was a director of BLM British Lead in Welwyn Garden City, will be banned from serving as a company director for six-and-a-half years. - Credit: Google Streetview

In 2020, both companies admitted fixing prices, agreeing not to target certain customers and sharing sensitive information.

ALM was fined £1.5million and BLM £8million.

Mr Sherling will be added to the Register of Disqualified Directors for three years, beginning on May 30.

Mr Campbell will be added to the register for six-and-a-half years, from March 18.

Graham Hudson, another ALM director, will be disqualified for four years, from May 30.

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.”

Neither ALM nor BLM returned this newspaper’s calls.