POLICE are trying to trace the man behind the failed Darrener newspaper and former owner of the collapsed Darwen FC.

Ted Ward has been sought by Greater Manchester Police for nearly two years over allegations of fraud following the autumn 2010 demise of Hitchens Family Stores in Bolton.

He is now being pursued by angry creditors of a Merseyside firm after he disappeared leaving a trail of debts.

Mr Ward was involved with Mega Mart St Helen’s Ltd, a company renting space to small traders, despite being an undischarged bankrupt disqualified from being a company director for 12 years in March 2010.

He used the name Edward Pickering, an alias already known to GMP.

Mr Ward lost control of Darwen FC in 2008 and was banned from its Anchor Ground after paying just £20,000 of the agreed £95,000 sale price to former owner Kevin Henry. He also started The Darrener which folded after 10 months owing staff more than £19,000 in unpaid wages.

Now Mr Ward is on the radar of not just GMP but the Merseyside force and the government’s Insolvency Service over activities that range as far as Slough in Berkshire.

In the latest episode, Mr Ward became a director of Mega Mart using the name Edward Pickering and recruited former deputy prime minister John Prescott’s nephew Colin to become a director. Lord Prescott opened the store, but in May Mr Ward disappeared leaving creditors claiming they were owed £60,000.

The events are similar to 2010 when Mr Ward, already a banned director, vanished after GMP started investigating the fraud claims about Hitchens.

The Insolvency Service said Mr Ward had been disqualified from company directorship for 12 years in March 2010 over his stewardship of Blackhurst and Ward Property Developers Ltd of Slough involving hundreds of thousands of pounds.

In March 2011, he was declared bankrupt. In January 2012 the Insolvency Service took the unusual step of court action to suspend his automatic discharge because of his “failure to co-operate”.

A GMP spokesman confirmed Ted Ward was being still sought in relation to Hitchens and that the alias Edward Pickering was familiar to them.