Stokes twins say they felt coerced into resignations


FORMER OWNERS of private members club Residence, Christian and Simon Stokes, have told an Employment Appeals Tribunal they felt coerced into signing resignation letters from the club.

The Stokes twins were giving evidence yesterday on the second hearing of their unfair dismissal action against the club’s current owner, Molana Ltd, a company controlled by businesswoman Olivia Gaynor Long.

Residence opened on St Stephen’s Green, Dublin, in 2008. However, the Stokes brothers lost control of the business after Missford Ltd, the holding company for Residence, ran up debts of about €4 million.

In December 2009, while the company was in examinership, Christian Stokes approached Ms Gaynor Long and her husband Brian Long, who were members of the club, about becoming investors. They were enthusiastic, he said and wrote a letter of intent.

Following the failure of the examinership a receiver was appointed in January 2010 and the Stokes brothers became employees of the receiver.

In June 2010 Ms Gaynor Long, through Molana, bought the business. The hearing was told by counsel for the Stokes, Imogen McGrath, that there was a handwritten note attached to the asset purchase agreement directing the receiver to use his best efforts to obtain the resignations of the Stokes, but the brothers were not aware of this.

In July 2010 the brothers were asked to sign resignation letters and were to take up consultancy contract for 12 months, which they did. On September 9th they were called to a meeting and told their contracts were being terminated.

The brothers told the hearing they hadn’t understood the implications of signing the resignation letters and had presumed the consultancy contract meant they were still employees.