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He will continue to assist LAPADA on a consultancy basis.

“It is with regret that I have taken this decision,” he explained. “I have enjoyed working with LAPADA’s members, but have found that the heavy demands of LAPADA on my time have meant that I have not been able to fulfil my other obligations and encroached on my family life too much.”

Lord Howe, chairman of LAPADA, said: “I am very sad that John is stepping down and pay tribute to his enthusiasm and creativity on behalf of our members and the trade. We thank him for all his hard work over the past 18 months and wish him every success in the future.”

Mr Newgas’s decision comes after what has been a difficult time for the association recently. He has come in for criticism over the handling of future plans for LAPADA’s fairs, although he has set out a clear programme for the coming year.

But there have been notable successes under his stewardship, the most recent reported on the front page of Antiques Trade Gazette No 1615, November 22, when an extensive investigation he carried out saved dealers being defrauded out of large sums of money and led to a serial fraudster being arrested and eventually jailed in the United States.

In an indepth interview in Antiques Trade Gazette No 1600, August 2 & 9, Mr Newgas made it clear that he felt the association needed to rethink their attitude to running fairs for members, saying that he was unhappy with the idea of dealers being obliged to support fairs – “A fair [should be] there to fulfil dealers’ needs.” The existing fairs programme was less successful than it had been, he argued. “Our fairs should continue, but we need to move forward and develop a format that will again lead with novelty and raise interest and standards.”

He also argued that the priority issues should be developing customer confidence in dealers, helping members communicate with each other and the wider public, and campaigning on important trade concerns, such as due diligence, the position of the consumer and intrusive legislation.

It remains to be seen how a new chief executive will view the list of priorities, but the LAPADA board have made it clear that they are already actively seeking a replacement for Mr Newgas.