Brewery inquiry after pub boss flees debts
Reporter: ERIN HEYWOOD
Date online: 11 January 2013
AN award-winning pub and restaurant owner has fled his establishments leaving a trail of debts and jobless staff.
Graham Horrocks was tenant at Shaw’s Morning Star, ran the Halfway House in Royton and had recently taken over The Gallery, a restaurant in Chester. He previously owned the Horton Arms in Chadderton.
JW Lees Brewery bosses launched an inquiry after Mr Horrocks disappeared earlier this week, leaving his partner Homey to face angry staff left unpaid after Christmas.
Some of the Chester staff travelled to Oldham last night on the hunt for Mr Horrocks, demanding to be paid. Brewery bosses locked in crisis talks with Mr Horrocks’ devastated partner later told angry staff at all three establishments that they have lost all the money due to them.
Mr Horrocks’ partner said she was heartbroken and knew nothing about his scam.
It is unclear whether Mr Horrocks is still in the country. He returned to his home town, Shaw, years ago after living and working in Benidorm.
One Gallery staff member was doubly shattered by Mr Horrocks’ actions: she faces paying a large wedding bill in a few weeks.
Bride-to-be Kirsty Smith, who worked at the restaurant for 30 hours a week, said: “I’ve not been paid for lots of the work I’ve done and that was my only job. We’ve paid the deposits on everything but the balance is due in February, with the wedding in March.
“I’ve been desperately trying to find another job and I’ve got an interview this week but if I don’t get that I don’t really know what to do. I don’t know how someone can sink so low as to do that to people.”
Kirsty’s call to the Chronicle came shortly after this newspaper had begun legal action against Mr Horrocks for advertising debts.
The Morning Star won Food Pub of the Year in 2009, and Mr Horrocks was J W Lees’ Tenant of the Year in 2010.
He put the awards down to hard work: “We go the extra mile with everything and we get more people in because of that. It’s an example of the effort that goes on every day.”
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