This week, Wakefield legend Sean McHale takes a look at one of the most notorious and complex characters to hail from the area – Paul Sykes.


Remarkably, Paul Sykes attracted the following critiques:

  1. Literary genius;
  2. Bully;
  3. Alcoholic;
  4. Talented storyteller; and
  5. Gifted professional boxer.

Beyond these descriptions, Sykes also spent over:

  1. 20 years in prison for various offences;
  2. was signed by the boxing promoter Don King;
  3. fought for the British Heavyweight Boxing crown in 1979;
  4. was the subject of an engaging ITV documentary – ‘Paul Sykes at Large’; and
  5. won the Arthur Koestler prize for prison literature for his compelling book ‘Sweet Agony’.
  • ASBO to Debt Collection
  • However, Sykes also garnered legal fame for being one of the first people to be designated with a city-centre anti-social behaviour order in 2000 for harassing local residents and various public order offences.

Sykes also gained notoriety as a debt collector which was particularly focused upon during the ITV documentary. However, it was questionable whether Sykes’ methods would meet today’s debt collection guidelines!

Unfair (and fair) debt collection practices

Examples of unfair practices include (from the StepChange charity):

  1. Calling you at unreasonable times;
  2. Calling you at work without permission or after you’ve told them to stop;
  3. Discussing your debts with a family member or employer;
  4. Taking payments without your permission;
  5. Refusing to deal with advice agencies, or not giving you a fair ‘breathing space’ after you’ve contacted an advice agency for help;
  6. Pressuring you to pay off a debt by borrowing more money;
  7. Using legal or technical language to confuse you;
  8. Sending letters that look like court forms; and
  9. Refusing to give you information about your account when you ask for it …

If you want your debts collected by methods within the guidelines (and not like the picture below!) contact Levi Solicitors Debt Recovery department in Leeds, Wakefield and Manchester on 0113 244 9931.