MARK Wilson, the man at the centre of the bidding controversy reported on this page last week, has told ATG that he will not bid for antiques at auction again.

The pledge came as part of his reply to the series of allegations made against him concerning rogue bidding at numerous auction houses across the country.

Defending himself, Mr Wilson said that his failure to pay for items he bid on was the result of him unexpectedly losing his job and the ensuing change in his circumstances.

“I’m not somebody who goes around deliberately trying to avoid payment,” he said.

He added that many people had been paid in full before the petition for his bankruptcy, and that several auctioneers, including Tennants and Mellors and Kirk, either “fully understood the position” or “were aware of various circumstances” concerning his status and ability to pay.

Mr Wilson also claimed that the sums due were “a fraction” of the £20,000 quoted in last week’s article, although ATG took this figure – which includes just under £7500 owed to a debt collection agency – from Nottingham County Court’s own records. When pressed further, Mr Wilson admitted that the figure was, in fact, accurate.

He further pointed out that he had made three offers through the courts in July last year to make monthly payments of between £30 and £50 towards the £1886.60 owed to Golding Young. However, all offers were rejected by the court.

Mr Wilson had earlier issued a cheque in his mother’s name for the full amount owed to Golding Young but said he had had it cancelled following his bankruptcy on the advice of his insolvency practitioner, who said that he no longer had any obligation to pay it.

Despite being made bankrupt on July 27, 2006, his ongoing unemployment and lack of earnings, Mr Wilson has continued to bid on items for auction “until three or four weeks ago”.

One such was the £580 (£665 including charges) bid for a gueridon table at Lacy Scott & Knight in Suffolk on September 16. The auctioneer told ATG that several attempts to extract payment had been met with replies that Mr Wilson had been ill or in hospital. But when we asked Mr Wilson why he was bidding hundreds of pounds without any apparent means of paying, he told us that a friend had lent him the money and that he had now sent a cheque to the auctioneers which they were aware of – a claim they denied.

ATG now have the names of at least 14 auctioneers said to have been affected by Mr Wilson’s failure to meet his commitments. Sums owed range from a few hundred to several thousand, and those rooms affected are as far north as North Yorkshire, as far south as Sussex, and from East Anglia to North Wales.

By Ivan Macquisten