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Disgraced producer Stephen Leatherland faces fresh pay accusations

Stephen Leatherland Stephen Leatherland
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The poster for A Night in Venice with Jonathan Ansell
The poster for A Night in Venice with Jonathan Ansell

A producer with a history of failing to pay performers has once again become embroiled in a dispute over unpaid wages totalling thousands of pounds.

Stephen Leatherland, from World on Stage, is accused of failing to pay cast and production staff on a tour of A Night in Venice, which starred G4 singer Jonathan Ansell and ran last year.

Leatherland, who features on Equity’s Special Attention list for his failure to pay people properly, was accused last year of also owing money to performers on a production called The Naked Truth.

In 2013, a performer who worked on a show called A Viennese Strauss Gala produced by Leatherland won a tribunal ordering him to pay more than £5,000 in unpaid wages.

Outstanding monies for the current show with payment problems, A Night in Venice, are understood to be as high as £15,000.

Ansell said he was owed about £10,000 for his work on the production. He has engaged a lawyer to assist with recovering the money owed to him, and described the outstanding amount as having a “big hit” on his personal life.

“Ultimately I don’t want other people put in that position. I acknowledge there is potentially no way of rectifying the situation for any of us now, but I would hate to see anyone put in financial hardship by entering a contract [with Leatherland]. It’s hard enough to get the gigs nowadays let alone not being paid when you have done it,” he told The Stage.

Ansell showed The Stage email correspondence he had had with Leatherland, in which the producer warns the performer that any adverse press would force him to wind up his company, and abandon current plans to stagger payments through a process known as a Company Voluntary Arrangement.

A firm called Wilson Field has been hired to oversee this, but Leatherland states in his email: “If you pursue this article it will force the company into liquidation which will mean there will be no chance of any of your debts being repaid.”

Another party owed money is a marketing company called Papillon, which claims to be owed approximately £1,800 for work it did on promoting the show.

Katie Whirledge, managing director of the company, explained that she had been brought on to help with the production “late in the day”.

After realising the show needed much more marketing, she said the company held an “emergency meeting and put all hands on deck working across the weekend and late into the evenings, working directly with Jonathan regarding media interviews”.

“My main grudge is that I have had no acknowledgement from the company at all, not even a thank you. I’ve sent invoice after invoice with gentle and friendly reminders, but still no response,” she said.

Responding, Leatherland blamed adverse press and “Brexit mania” for A Night in Venice failing to attract audiences. He said the show had made “considerable monetary losses”.

He confirmed he was working with financial consultants to pay people back money owed to them, but warned that anything published about him could lead to his company being wound up.

If this happens, he said “nobody would be paid for what they are owed for a considerable length of time”.

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