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Sweeps in court for 'planting dead pigeons in customers' chimneys'

Two chimney sweeps planted dead birds and old nests in customers' flues in a ploy to charge them for their removal, a court was told.

The pair are also accused of “grossly overcharging” their customers, selling them unnecessary chimney cowls and leaving work uncompleted. 

Martin Price, 59, and son Luke Price, 33, are said to have told customers they had to fit the cowls to stop birds nesting above their fireplaces, using the nests and deceased fowl as justification.    

Luke Price dressed in a black zip-up jacket, and his father, dressed in a dark grey overcoat, appeared at City of London Magistrates’ Court.

The son, of Ashford, Middlesex, and his father, of Addlestone, Surrey, are both charged with conspiring to defraud customers who booked chimney sweeping services between 11 July 2017 and 30 April 2019.

Pair charged with 'conspiracy to defraud'

They were confronted over the alleged scam by the Rogue Traders segment of the BBC's Watchdog programme.

Both men were released on unconditional bail to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on December 16.

The charge against Luke Price alleges that he “conspired together with Martin Price to defraud those who had booked chimney sweeping services, by conduct including charging for the removal of dead birds and birds' nests that had been planted in the chimneys at their properties”.

Luke Price, of Village Way, Ashford, faces two charges of aiding and abetting fraudulent trading. He also faces a charge of participating in fraudulent business carried on by a sole trader.

Martin Price, of Hare Hill, Addlestone, is also charged with fraud by false representation. He is also accused of fraud by false representation in respect of a BBC actress on March 21 2019, involving further dead birds and nests used to justify the installation of cowls.