News item

92-year-old gets national award for helping to catch rogue traders

A 92-year-old war veteran who was forced to pay over the odds for unnecessary guttering and fascia work to rogue traders has received national recognition for his bravery and doorstep crime awareness work with a Trading Standards Institute Hero Award at TSI’s Conference in Manchester.
Maidstone man John Gale, who had been taken to the bank several times and had already handed over   £3,300 cash when Kent Trading Standards arrived just in time to stop the next payment of £3,100, was keen to help Kent Trading Standards in their bid to prevent others from falling for similar scams.
Two men – John Hanley and John Brien from Banstead in Surrey – later pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court to a commercial practice which was aggressive under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 in the case brought by Kent County Council Trading Standards. They each received a 12-month custodial sentence, suspended for two years, a two-month curfew, 275 hours community service, costs of £1,250 each and were ordered to pay the victim back £3,300.

Rebecca Simmons, Kent Trading Standards Officer, said: “It is thanks to the cooperation of Mr Gale that we were able to secure this good result against these rogue traders. Throughout this case, Mr Gale remained positive and confident and was always willing to help – with witness statements, police ID parades and court appearances.

“Mr Gale was one of very few British prisoners kept at Auschwitz in the Second World War, where he witnessed the holocaust first-hand. He also survived the ‘death marches’ as the Germans forced all camp survivors to walk westwards in the wake of the advancing Russians.

“Mr Gale has learnt from his experiences with these rogue traders and has been helping to educate others on how to prevent falling victim too. We are sure that his efforts will result in preventing others from falling for similar scams.”

After the two men were convicted Kent Trading Standards Area Manager Richard Strawson said: “This was a serious case of two men using persistent aggression to pressure an elderly person into handing over money. We are grateful for Mr Gale’s help in highlighting the impact of these types of scams and we urge anyone who suspects they have been visited by a rogue trader to report it and help warn others.”

Notes for Editors:

The awards ceremony is at Manchester Central Thursday 28 June at 12.15pm.

Potential scams should be reported to Citizen’s Advice consumer helpline which works with Kent Trading Standards on 08454 040506. Callers can also find out about their rights and get consumer help and advice.

For further information, to attend the ceremony or to arrange an interview please contact the Trading Standards Institute press officer Irja Howie on 07780675815or by e-mail on

Trading Standards Institute (TSI)
TSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally.  We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities.

TSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses.  We are also supporting the delivery of initiatives such as the advice services Consumer Direct, UK ECC and UK ECCS.

The Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards Conference 2012
The Trading Standards Institute’s annual trading standards and consumer affairs Conference and Exhibition is the leading consumer affairs and trading standards event in Europe. The 2012 Conference is at Manchester Central from Tuesday 26 June to Thursday 28 June.

Some 1,500 people are expected to attend the conference, including representatives from local and central government and those interested in fair trading, representatives of business and commerce, together with consumer organisations.

Journalists and photographers are welcome to attend but should contact the press office on 0845 608 9430 to arrange passes.