Updated: Wednesday, 23rd January 2019 @ 10:59am

Protesters slam 'Bailiff Oscars' in Manchester for 'celebrating people's misery'

Protesters slam 'Bailiff Oscars' in Manchester for 'celebrating people's misery'

| By Charlotte Green

Anti-bailiff campaigners branded the annual Debt Collection Awards last night in Manchester as a sick event that ‘celebrated other people’s misery’.

Angry protesters rallied outside the Midland Hotel in the city centre where the awards were held in the prestigious hotel’s Alexandra Suite.

Angry words were exchanged between protesters and and the hotel’s general manager, before police arrived to escort them away from the entrance of the iconic building.

A group of 20 protesters remained outside however, handing out flyers and shouting at anyone who attended the awards night.

Protester Jay Bradley, 41, from the Bailiff Response Team Northwest condemned the event.

“They’re profiteering and sitting in there, celebrating people’s misery,” he told MM.

“Vulnerable people need looking after, and these people here don’t look after them like they’re supposed to.”

BALANCE DUE... YOUR SOUL: A satirical bailiff leaflet distributed at the protest

The campaigners claimed to represent an organisation called ‘Beat the Bailiffs and the Banks’.

Their website claims they aim to ‘help people reduce their debt by taking on the loan sharks, banks, bailiffs and debt purchasing companies directly’, and forms local response teams across the country.

The flyers being handed out were a mock-up of an eviction or repossession notice, instead asking for the balance of ‘your soul’ within 24 hours.

The same event was targeted by protesters last year, with smoke and stink bombs being set off in the event room, although it is not clear if this was connected with the Beat the Bailiffs protest.

More than 450 professionals from the industry attended the awards dinner, with categories to win including Commercial Debt Collection Agency of the Year, Enforcement Team of the Year and Debt Purchaser of the Year.

The Handful of Hemp duo from Bolton were there showing their support, arguing the cause with guests of the event and police, as well as filming the protest.

Officers policing the protest said they were happy to allow it to continue as long as it did not restrict public access past the hotel.

 The ceremony was the finishing event of the annual Credit Today Collections, Debt Sale & Purchase conference which is hosted by Credit Today, an online news and information service for the UK’s commercial and consumer credit industry, and supported by the Marston Group.

The Marston Group is the UK's largest judicial services group with 1200 staff and self-employed agents recovering £200million per year.