A company fears it could be the victim of a ‘scam’ after forking out more than £1,500 for a table at a star-studded Christmas event that never existed.

Peter Kitchin, who owns C&C Catering in Saighton, booked a sportsman’s dinner at Chester Racecourse back in April after he received a poster advertising the ‘Chester Christmas Lunch’ event on December 3, with Liverpool FC legend Jamie Carragher and current England coach Gary Neville as guests of honour.

But the racecourse has confirmed they have never been approached about such an event and Carragher himself took to social media at the weekend to warn fans it has nothing to do with him.

Thinking it would be a good networking opportunity to discuss his catering business with Neville, Mr Kitchin contacted organisers ‘JC Events’ about booking a ‘Legends’ table for 10, which promised a three-course lunch and VIP drinks reception with the ex-footballers seated on their table, and began numerous email exchanges with a ‘Julie Coleman’, who confirmed the footballers would definitely be sitting at their table.

“We looked at it as something worthwhile, as we sell catering equipment and Gary is involved in a hotel,” Mr Kitchin told The Chronicle.

“We have bought a number of these kind of lunches before, including at the racecourse, and have never had an issue with any of them, so I didn’t think we would this time either - and nothing about it sounded suspicious whatsoever. I asked her more than once to confirm that if Gary pulled out, we would be able to get our money back, to which she readily agreed, and I have still got all the emails to prove that.”

In good faith, Mr Kitchin paid the £1,560 total through bank transfer, as Julie Coleman had said the company did not accept credit cards, and shortly afterwards he received an invoice confirming receipt of the payment.

But just a few days ago when Mr Kitchin happened to mention the booking to a friend who organises sportsman’s dinners, the latter made some enquiries and discovered the racecourse had no actual record of the event on their books.

After several attempts to get in touch with JC Events via telephone and email, Mr Kitchin was unable to contact the company until yesterday as The Chronicle was going to press, when Julie Coleman sent him an email saying she had ‘just returned from holiday to this mess’, describing the situation as a ‘malicious joke’.

On Sunday, Jamie Carragher himself tweeted a link to the poster, highlighting that the event wasn’t real and that he hadn’t been approached to appear. So far Gary Neville has made no comment on the event.

 

Mr Kitchin said. “It’s not a huge amount of money we’ve lost in the grand scheme of things but that isn’t the point.

“I don’t think we are naive. I think it’s going to put us off booking things in future. We were so looking forward to this.”

Chester Racecourse posted a statement on their Facebook page earlier this week, confirming the event did not exist, and a spokesperson told The Chronicle: “We have a private Christmas party on December 3 and nothing else.

“We have been made aware of a supposed event taking place at Chester Racecourse involving Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville on this date. We can confirm no booking has been received for this event by its organisers, nor has Jamie Carragher or Gary Neville ever been approached regarding speaking at this event.”

A spokesperson for Trading Standards at Cheshire West and Chester Council said: “Although we are not aware of this case, any other company that may have been similarly affected should contact Citizens Advice Bureau on 0345 4040506.

“Lessons that can be learned from this case is to always check with the venue to ensure that the event is going ahead and always make sure payments are paid through credit card as it protects the chances of getting the money back.”