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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 November 2006, 21:06 GMT
Four held after kitchen firm raid
Police breaking down the door at Maple Mill
Officers raided the mill in the early hours
Property seized from a kitchen company in one of the UK's biggest Trading Standards raids is being assessed.

Four people were arrested in the investigation into Kitchens, which officers say is the most complained about independent trader in the UK.

The firm's Maple Mill base in Oldham and residential addresses in Ramsbottom and Milnrow were searched on Wednesday.

The company and its owner Vance Miller have featured on BBC television programmes Rogue Traders and Watchdog.

Four people have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud.

A 41-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman from Ramsbottom, in Bury, were held, together with a 42-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman from Milnrow, near Rochdale.

Kitchens inside Maple Mill
Maple Mill was searched by trading standards officers

Officers also carried out a search of the factory and the firm's offices.

The company, in Cardwell Street, sells cheap kitchens through newspaper adverts, turning over tens of millions of pounds each year.

Trading standards said it handled between 60 and 100 complaints a week about the firm.

Some 15,000 people are estimated to have used the firm which has been trading under various names from site in Cardwell Street, trading standards officers said.

But at the moment the company can legally carry on trading.

The Office of Fair Trading is awaiting evidence gathered from the raids to assess whether it is in a position to shut the company down.

John Rice, service director at Oldham Council, said: "This is a major operation targeted at the UK's most complained about independent trader.

'Stop now' order

"However, we recognise that this enforcement action will, potentially, impact upon thousands of UK consumers who are at various stages of dealing with this firm."

In 2002, the Office of Fair Trading gave Mr Miller the country's first "Stop Now" order, telling him to stop his rogue trading practices or face prison.

He ignored the warning and spent nine months in jail. The order is a lifetime ban.

Trading Standards has set up a helpline on 08454 040506 for customers who have ordered kitchens through the firm.

Information is also available on its website by following the link on the right.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Officers began the raids at 0500 BMT



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