TV presenter promoted bust holiday parks firm as 'no brainer' investment
PUBLISHED: 16:24 30 April 2019 | UPDATED: 09:32 01 May 2019
Dream Lodge Group
A holiday park firm which customers paid millions of pounds to for lodges which were never built was promoted by a top property presenter as a "great opportunity".
Melissa Porter, who presented shows including Countryfile and Escape to the Country, praised the Dream Lodge group as a “no brainer” for investors.
She was hired as a “brand ambassador” for the company, which has holiday parks across East Anglia, and said its owners had a “strong and reputable investment track record in City”.
But investors have been left millions of pounds out of pocket after the company behind Dream Lodge, Walsham Chalet Park Ltd, went into administration in January owing £25.6m to 1,150 people.
Those owed include investors who paid a total of £14m for lodges at the firm's parks which were never constructed.
Administrator Deloitte sold the firm in March and Dream Lodge is now under new management and ownership.
But those who invested are likely to only get a fraction of their money back.
Some customers have lost their entire life savings in the firm.
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They were promised returns of 8pc by buying lodges at the holiday parks which were then rented.
Mrs Porter, who is a successful property developer, states on the website of Dream Lodge that the company offered “higher yields” compared to savings accounts and “wanted to help promote the 'no brainer' deal”.
“This is great opportunity for investors,” she said.
She also praises the director and owner Simon Moir.
But Deloitte is now investigating a string of allegations at the firm, including claims that some customers sold their lodges and were never paid the money.
One former manager at the group said customers had effectively invested in “fresh air”.
Deloitte also said Mr Moir owed the firm more than £418,000, but he disputes that figure.
Deloitte said it also found electronic records were deleted by the company directors just before they were appointed as administrators.
We approached Mrs Porter's agent on Friday for comment but have received no response.
The company has parks in North Walsham, Bury St Edmunds and Stretham in Cambridgeshire.