Businessman who spent £20k on his girl’s Super Sweet 16 party sees empire collapse

A bankrupt businessman who appeared on TV bankrolling an extravagant birthday party for his daughter faces jail after his insurance firms collapsed.

Harbinder Singh Panesar, known as Harby, was warned he could face a spell in prison when a High Court judge found him in contempt of court after ruling he was involved in breaching a freezing injunction on a company he ran called Motorcare Warranties.

Mr Panesar and his father-in-law, Anthony Hopkin William Thomas, were both found in contempt of court after a judge ruled they had been involved in breaching a freezing order on their company by setting up a new business named Motorcare Elite.

The order had been granted in 2008 following an application by insurers Templeton, which a judge found had been underpaid more than £2.3m during the course of contracts between the firms to sell motor insurance.


Mr Panesar and his wife – who showcased their luxurious lifestyle when they spent at least £20,000 on his daughter Anysha’s 15th birthday party for an MTV show – now face losing their sprawling £565,000 home in their six-acre estate in the Vale of Glamorgan.

When Mr Panesar appeared on show My Super Sweet 16 after the lavish bash he boasted: “If any parents were going to have a Super Sweet 16 party I would suggest that they have very long pockets and very long arms to reach in to those pockets.”

The programme, aired in 2009, saw him hand over lavish gifts including a Gucci handbag, a £1,500 personalised mobile phone and a pair of £400 sunglasses.

The show featured teenage beauty queen Anysha being flown on a small private plane to hand out invitations to her friends before the Moulin Rouge-themed celebration at Porthcawl’s Grand Pavilion.

At the party, Mr Panesar’s daughter wore a replica one of Nicole Kidman’s costumes from the hit film, made by the film’s seamstress at a cost of several thousand pounds.

Musicians N-Dubz and DJ Ironik provided entertainment while there was a £500 rotating Moulin Rouge cake – but it was made from foam sponge rather than actual cake.

Mr Panesar, who used to work in the prison service, also had a £20,000 horse and owned a property in Florida.

But both of the businesses he ran are now in compulsory liquidation.

When Motorcare Elite, set up in 2008, collapsed last March, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) warned customers their vehicle insurance policies may be “worthless”.

One disgruntled customer, who in 2009 paid £1,800 for a lifelong policy to cover her Porsche Carrera, was slapped with a £1,600 bill when her car developed engine problems and her warranty was found to be invalid.

The mum of two said she took out the policy as she needed to ensure her car was always available for her work as a clinical nursing supervisor.

The woman in her 30s, who asked not to be named, said: “I wanted to know I would always have the peace of mind that the car would always be fixed with no large bills to pay.”

And she welcomed the decision of the High Court that could see Mr Panesar and Mr Thomas jailed.

She added: “Harby Panesar used to work for the Prison Service so he will feel quite at home, hopefully.”

Templeton managing director Elizabeth Grayton said the firm was “very pleased” with the decision of the court after a lengthy process.

Motorcare Elite’s website described the business as “an established family-owned company that has built up an excellent reputation over the years”.

A High Court case heard in London last month found both Mr Panesar and Mr Thomas in contempt of court after Mr Justice Eder(corr) ruled they had been involved in breaching a freezing injunction placed on Motorcare Warranties on July 8, 2008.

But proceedings for a committal to prison against other family members – Mr Panesar’s wife, Caroline Victoria Thomas, her brother James Anthony William Thomas and their mother Christine Thomas – were dropped by Templeton, which also made a contribution of £1,000 to each of their costs.

A judge granted the freezing order against the company – of which Mr Panesar was managing director and Mr Thomas was a co-owner – in 2008 following an application by Templeton Insurance, based in the Isle of Man.

Motorcare Warranties, first set up in 1997 according to documents filed with Companies House, sold car breakdown insurance through an extensive network of agents around the UK.

When Mr Thomas sought to retire in 2003 or 2004 one of the firm’s sales managers made a £1.2m offer for the firm but he instead handed over the running of the business to Mr Panesar.

Between July 2004 and July 2008, Motorcare’s business consisted of selling insurance policies underwritten by Templeton.

But the relationship “started to fall apart” late in 2007 “when substantial losses started to be generated,” according to the Commercial Court ruling of March 28 this year.

Following a meeting between bosses at both businesses, Mr Thomas sent a fax to Templeton he claimed was a letter Motorcare had received in November 2004 authorising departures from the contract between the two parties.

Next page: Document

Article source: