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According to David Waggott, the new boss of what has been renamed The Antiques Centre, York, the total sum owed to the dealers is around £250,000 and, of this, more than £200,000 of substantial claims have been lodged with the petitioning solicitor in Mr Gilberthorpe’s bankruptcy petition.

A large proportion of the money is allegedly owed as the result of Mr Gilberthorpe’s failure to pay dealers for sold stock and his offer to rent cabinets for a 15 per cent reduction if they signed up for a whole year.

The support group was set up to enable dealers to share the cost of legal fees. Mr Waggott, who claims that Mr Gilberthorpe owes him about £210,000, has set up The Antiques Centre in York, which he says will run from the Stonegate site until the alleged debt is cleared.

Mr Waggott’s lawyer, Brian Mitchell, of Grays Solicitors, York, said his client was running a new business at the site, adding that the lease was still held by Mr Gilberthorpe. He said that Mr Waggott had loaned a “significant sum of money” to Mr Gilberthorpe, who granted him a mortgage over the premises as security. Mr Waggott had repossessed the premises following a “breach” of that mortgage, he added.

Mr Gilberthorpe was due to face a bankruptcy hearing at the Royal Court of Justice in London on February 13.