Hotelier has been trading while she’s been an undischarged bankrupt!

Shieldhill Castle Hotel has closed its doors following financial difficulties
Shieldhill Castle Hotel has closed its doors following financial difficulties

A hotelier in Biggar has been trading as the Shieldhill Castle Hotel in the full knowledge she was an undischarged bankrupt and therefore could not hold a company directorship, or run up further debt.

Mary Yuill, who is listed as the sole director of Sweeney Leisure Limited was sequestrated at Lanark Sheriff Court on a creditor’s petition on July 17 last year, when Donald McNaught of Johnston Carmichael was appointed as trustee to manager her affairs. Part of the trustee’s role is to ingather any assets for the benefit of creditors, to dispose of them and apply any funds to those who were left in debt by Yuill’s reckless trading while insolvent.

Shieldhill Castle Hotel has now closed

Shieldhill Castle Hotel has now closed

Mr McNaught confirmed to us that a bankrupt cannot hold a directorship, saying: “In any sequestration a trustee will consider the need to report conduct issues to the Accountant in Bankruptcy and whether that would give grounds to defer the discharge of a particular debtor.”

Since first breaking this story with Jordan Doyle’s missing wages and bounced cheques six weeks ago, our reporter has been inundated with calls and emails from guests who turned up and found the hotel closed, suppliers who are owed substantial sums of money, and staff who have never been paid for work they did at the hotel in Biggar or at The Rocks in Dunbar which was leased to Yuill.

We’ve even heard from staff at the Crannog restaurant in Stirling, which is still trading, who complained of having to wait for wages.

One couple were in tears when they realised they had to cancel their wedding plans because they could no longer afford to get married as they can’t get their deposit back.

Mary Yuill, director of Sweeney Leisure Limited who ran the hotel.

Mary Yuill, director of Sweeney Leisure Limited who ran the hotel.

One supplier we heard from, Thirty Degrees Stirling supplied laundry to Shieldhill. A director of that business said: “We rued the day that we ever got involved with Mary Yuill, what a disastrous business decision that was.

“Things got so bad we very nearly lost our business because of her. At one point we were owed £20,000 and eventually got so fed up with promises of payment we went and took all our laundry back. Even doing that we found that some of it had been taken to another of her hotels, so we are still short by some £4,000.”

Many of the hotels guests came from online deals, like Wowcher, who told us: “This hotel is no longer advertising on our website. We have emailed all customers who had bought vouchers to notify them that this hotel is no longer honouring our vouchers and all customers have been refunded.”

The hotel is now listed for sale through Chris Hart & Co who are advertising it for £900,000 but with the proviso that a five year lease was granted to Yuill’s company Sweeney Leisure Ltd in March 2016 and that this business is not included within the sale.

Our investigation shows that the building is owned by the Allied Irish Bank who loaned the sum of £310,000 on a mortgage in 1996 to the hotels previous owners, Robert and Christina Lamb.

Oddly, the bank would not confirm this position despite us forwarding to them the sale schedule from the selling agents which confirm the lease arrangement with Yuill. They responded by saying: “We don’t comment on individual cases.”

Since we broke this story six weeks ago, our social media pages have been inundated with comments from people who either worked for the hotel at some stage, or who have booked events and can no longer contact Yuill or the hotel to obtain refunds.

If you have any information on Mary Yuill and her business practices, please email our reporter, John MacInnes on: john.macinnes@jpimedia.co.uk.