DIRECTORS of an East Lancashire firm specialising in suspended ceilings, which crashed with debts of almost £1.3million, have been banned from holding office for six, and five, years.

BCP (NW) Ltd ended up owing almost £600,000 to the taxman, after going into administration in November 2010, investigators from the Insolvency Service found.

Question marks have been raised as to how BCP, based in Carluke Street, Blackburn, managed to transfer £602,000 to directors Paul Sterry, 44, and Darren McGaughey, 45, and a related company, while the company was in trouble.

Just two years ago the business partners, who were also involved in Bankside Interiors, were in the spotlight after they bought what was believed to be Britain’s cheapest house, for £10,000, in Pritchard Street, Burnley.

Sterry, of Bankside Farm, Bacup, said to have pocketed £136,589 between July 2009 and November 2010, has been disqualified as a company director for six years.

And his business partner McGaughey, of Waterslea Drive, Bolton, who received £30,477, was banned for five years.

Mr McGaughey said he blamed himself for the demise of his company. He added: “The person to blame for this is me.

“It was my company, but I didn’t understand the paperwork side of things.”

Claire Entwistle, the Insolvency Service’s northern company investigations director, said: “Being a company director brings with it certain responsibilities and the Insolvency Service will rigorously pursue directors who seek unfair advantage over their competitors by not paying their taxes.

“Failure to comply with the basic requirements of being a director will result in the protection of limited liability being withdrawn, as these two directors have found out,” she added.

The investigators also discovered, in the final two years of BCP’s operations, while trade debts dipped by £1,150,653 to £376,140, the amount owed to Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs, for the likes of pay-as-you-earn tax and National Insurance, rose by £316,888 to £598,547.

Company accounts were incomplete from June 2009.

And various holes were found in payroll records around the same time.