BOSSES at The Accident Group were last night accused of "robbing their employees" amid claims it illegally owed more than £11m in National Insurance when it went bust.
A special House of Commons debate heard the company, which sacked around 300 staff at its o-Speke base in May, had paid no National Insurance since December, a practice described as "tantamount to fraud" by one MP.
As a result, some of its former workers, who total 2,700 across the North West, are now being told they are ineligible to claim jobseekers' allowance.
The revelation was just one of a series of astonishing allegations made by Peter Kilfoyle, Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, about the way the company was run and the reasons for its shock demise.
Using parliamentary privilege, Mr Kilfoyle alleged The Accident Group (TAG), which pioneered the phrase 'Where's there's blame, there's a claim', deliberately encouraged vulnerable people to make false claims.
Staff, under pressure to boost their commission, were said to have:
* Knocked on doors after bus crashes, urging claimants to sign forms while allowing staff to fill in the details later;
* Waited for people outside job centres, encouraging them to claim they tripped over paving stones - even taking photos at the scene;
* Enticed cars full of passengers to drive over potholes and claim for non-existent whiplash injuries;
* Stood outside Liverpool Prison, urging released inmates to claim they had back injuries from sleeping on lumpy mattresses.
Mr Kilfoyle also claimed that, as the company hit financial trouble, its directors spent £420,000 on a Christmas party and £42,000 on a trip to Barbados.
The executive car fleet included a Bentley, Ferraris, an Aston Martin and Mercedes, all for use by Mark Langford, the Cheshire-based chairman.
But the firm's practices and profligacy caught up with it, as it was hit by rising insurance premiums sparked by a massive number of failed cases.
Owing millions, TAG was forced to call in the administrators, informing its staff overnight they had lost their jobs.
Mr Kilfoyle said: "Some were emailed, some were texted. What a way to lose your job in the 21st century."
The MP demanded to know what help the Government could offer the workers, how the directors could be held to account and whether there were plans to regulate so-called 'claims' farmers'.
Gerry Sutcliffe, minister for employment relations, insisted the Government favoured a "voluntary approach" ahead of fresh regulations.
Mr Sutcliffe pledged to meet with Mr Kilfoyle after further inquiries into the company's practices had been carried out by the DTI.