17 February 2020

Norton – Was it a fraud from the start? Where has all the money gone?

Article by John Hogan - Editor of SuperBike Magazine. You’re about to read the first in a series of interviews relating to the Norton story. The story is not a good one for the UK motorcycle industry.

I first wrote about Norton in SuperBike magazine back in 2012, expressing my concerns. Stuart Garner called me a couple of weeks later and tried to give me the hairdryer treatment. He sounded like a posh schoolkid that had hidden his marbles in his bag and then blamed me for stealing them. My doubts of Stuart Garner’s ability to run a motorcycle brand like Norton have never gone away.

The mainstream Norton story relates primarily to pension fraud, you can read about that in detail in the Guardian. If you’re tired of reading, you’ll also be able to watch various ITV pieces on the same subject. I played a small part in helping those mainstream journalists understand the oily nuts and bolts side of the Norton business. During my research I’ve spoken to current and former employees, from the shop floor to the boardroom. A former accountant, Stuart Garner’s former PA, a burned business partner, an investor, multiple Norton buyers, Norton franchised dealers in the UK and on the other side of the planet, various Norton racers and Mr Stuart James Garner himself. Everything I’ve written is the result of speaking to the people involved, some were happy to be named and others weren’t. That’s their choice and I can respect that. It makes sense to me to start the story in 2008, when Stuart Garner bought into Spondon Engineering, prior to buying Norton and bringing it back to the UK.

You can read each of these interviews and make your own mind up as to whether Stuart Garner made a mistake thanks to Brexit and has only recently ran into trouble. Or is it possible that he’s planned every single element of the largest frauds the UK motorcycle industry has ever seen, and he began doing so back in 2008?

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