In the last four days I’ve had two emails from the DTI saying that it was in the process of winding up Adrian Smythe Publishing and has already wound up UK Frontline Services. The former was engaged in cold-calling businesses to sell sponsorships in child safety and crime awareness books. The latter claimed to produce a children’s wall planner and a crime prevention journal, and led advertisers to believe that it was connected with a charity (not true).

The day I began to write this column I got a call from Peter Crook, who runs Ireland Stores at Barbon in Cumbria. He wanted to know if I had heard of Adrian Smythe Publishing and was relieved to hear the abovementioned news. His daughter had been pestered often and had repeatedly said “no”. Then one day her husband took the call and, on hearing it was “for children”, said it sounded a good idea. The company pounced on this and rang them back saying the conversation was now on tape. Peter contacted trading standards and was told that the tape could count as a verbal agreement but they were entitled to hear the whole transcript, which of course would give the game away.