Call me a principled fool, but I wouldn’t spend my money in a shop that’s been linked to organised crime. So after months of hearing quite a few eye-popping rumours about Prologue in East Sheen from fairly reliable sources, I decided to do a bit of digging on the interweb.
The good news is that the shop, in its current incarnation under Mark Henley, is perfectly legit. I’ll continue being a customer, and so should you if you value having a decent, friendly local bike shop. The allegations of wrongdoing stem from its two original directors Andrew Neave and Paul O’Connor – both of whom stood down in March and have nothing to do with the business anymore, according to records at Companies House and an assurance I received on the London Dynamo forum from the present Prologue team (you’ll need to be a Dynamo member to access that link).
So what’s been going on with the original directors? Well, in January, a judge ordered Neave and O’Connor to be extradited to Italy over a £344million Mafia money laundering investigation involving a telecoms firm called Fastweb. Part of the CCTV evidence uncovered by the Italian investigation apparently shows Neave with Luigi Marotta, a convicted fraudster known as “the Teflon Don”. (Whoever hands out Mafia nicknames may want to rescind that one: surely “Teflon” is a misnomer after you’ve been caught?)
Neave and O’Connor have an intriguing background. They owned an IT firm called Fulcrum Trading, and O’Connor made the Sunday Times Rich List in 2002 with an estimated wealth of £33million. Neave was also part of a project management company that was sued for €5.3m over alleged unauthorised money transfers and overpayments, although I can’t find the outcome of this dispute. I also have no idea how the Italian case is progressing (very slowly, I suspect, given the standards of the country’s justice system) – but, obviously, Neave and O’Connor are innocent until proven guilty.
A final point to note: everyone I’ve spoken to thought that Bruce Berkeley, who ran the shop, was only the manager. In fact, “David Bruce Berkeley” was also a director. Companies House shows his position was terminated in February.
Anyway, I hope that clears everything up. To reiterate: Prologue is a nice shop with helpful staff, and the present predicament of Neave and O’Connor shouldn’t have any bearing on how the business is perceived. I wish the current team at Prologue all the best.Follow @campbells_snoop