One of the business owners featured in the advertising drive is fighting charges of embezzlement, fraud and theft

The Government appears increasingly desperate to convince the public that Brexit is a success, against all the evidence to the contrary. In recent days it has paid for article-length adverts, that look like news stories, in several national and local publications – including The Metro, the Daily Mail, the Independent, the Sun, the Evening Standard and the Times.

The articles, though they feature different headlines, follow a similar formula – providing quotes from three model businesses that say they have successfully adapted to life after Brexit.

Byline Times and Yorkshire Bylines have discovered that the owner of one of the firms is fighting charges of embezzlement, fraud and theft, with the case set for a preliminary hearing later this month. The charges are strenuously denied.

The Government-sponsored articles feature a quote from Dea Baker, the owner of Dundee-based fashion and lifestyle brand Aqua and Rock. Baker is quoted in the piece as saying that she “wouldn’t have a business” if she had failed to adapt to post-Brexit rules. “In all, I work with five European countries and I export most to Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium.”

In January 2021, Dea changed her surname on Companies House from McGill to Baker, as shown below.

A Dea McGill is separately listed on Companies House as the former co-owner of a firm called Tayone Food Limited, based in City Quay, Dundee.

The Courier reported in July 2019 that Dea McGill had been charged following the collapse of a quayside restaurant in Dundee called Brassica.

McGill was charged with theft, embezzlement and fraud following a criminal investigation, the newspaper reported. The food venture launched in June 2018, yet staff walked out in October, just four months after Brassica opened its doors, due to unpaid wages, it is claimed. Tayone Food was dissolved in February 2020.

An indictment preliminary diet (hearing) for the case is due be to be called at Dundee Sheriff Court on 23 March, according to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. Lawyers representing Baker told Byline Times that the “allegations have not been determined by any court and they are strenuously denied.”

None of these details were mentioned by the newspapers that carried the Government advert.

It also appears that Aqua and Rock featured in another Government newspaper advertising campaign, in October 2020, promoting the Kickstart scheme designed to find work opportunities for young people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The focus of the transition campaign has always been on getting the country ready for the changes that came into force on 1 January,” a Government spokesperson said, when Byline Times asked for a comment on the details of the above story. “The campaign has reached 99.7% of UK adults, and we know that the vast majority of businesses and citizens are taking the steps we need them to take and we continue to support them to do so.”

You can find out more about the companies featured in the Government Brexit advertising campaign in this article written by Anthony Robinson for Yorkshire Bylines.

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