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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 April 2007, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Text message boss killed in crash
Mark Langford
Mark Langford fled to Marbella after the firm collapsed
The former boss of a no-win no-fee compensation firm which told its 2,500 staff by text they would not be paid has been killed in a car crash.

Mark Langford, 43, from Cheshire, fled to the continent after Manchester-based The Accident Group (TAG) collapsed with debts of 100m in May 2003.

Mr Langford's car was involved in an accident in Marbella, Spain, on Monday night, the Foreign Office said.

He was being sought by HM Revenue and Customs for 4.1m in unpaid tax.

A Spanish Police official said Mr Langford was driving an Opel Corsa along the A7 highway near Marbella when he lost control of the vehicle.

No other car was involved and Mr Langford was travelling alone.

Crash investigation

He was taken to Costa del Sol Hospital where he later died.

Police said there was no alcohol in Mr Langford's system at the time of the collision and the cause of the crash is under investigation.

TAG helped develop the "no win, no fee" system in the UK and became the UK's biggest injury claims specialist at one stage, with offices in Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool.

The firm listed profits of 17m in 2002, just a year before its collapse.

TAG staff were famously informed they were out of a job in a text message which read: "Urgent. Unfortunately salaries not paid. Please do not contact office. Full details to follow later...."

In March, a bankruptcy petition hearing against Mr Langford was adjourned at London's High Court. It was due to resume on 1 May.

In addition, The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) was seeking to disqualify Mr Langford as a director.

Accident Group employees outside the firm's HQ

His wife Deborah was also included in the DTI action. Three other former directors are already disqualified.

Trade unions used the "text incident" to press for stronger employment laws in the UK.

Trade union worker Alec McFadden, who represented the interests of sacked workers in the TAG liquidation, described Mr Langford's death as "a sad end".

He said: "As a human being, I am sad that a man has died, but it's right to say that the people I represent had their lives turned upside down by the actions of a company that Mark Langford was in charge of.

"Some of them ended up in poverty, others ended up getting divorced, some have never really managed to get another reasonable job.

"It's a sad situation for everyone, and a sad end to the life of a man who did have a damaging effect on the lives of thousands of people."

In 2000, William Thornley, 73, died when he was knocked down by Mr Langford's Ferrari near Manchester United's Old Trafford ground.

Mr Langford was fined 1,000 after being found guilty of careless driving but was cleared of causing death by dangerous driving.

He was earlier banned for 22 months for drink-driving and had only had his licence returned to him six months before the fatal crash.

Footage of Mark Langford with Bill Clinton

Fortune from 'blame claim' mantra
10 Apr 07 |  Manchester
TAG director ordered to pay 400k
08 Dec 05 |  Manchester
Text-sacking firm boss in court
18 Oct 05 |  Manchester
Payout for Accident Group workers
18 Oct 03 |  Manchester
'Accident' creditors seek liquidation
26 Sep 03 |  Manchester
Accident Group owes 100m
14 Aug 03 |  Business

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