The Queen’s Portraitist who Stole £50,000

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Who is Darren Baker?

Darren Baker is one of the UK’s most celebrated fine artists, having captured the likeness of a range of celebrities including Lewis Hamilton, and Steven Gerrard, as well as members of the royal family including the late Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles. His paintings have sold for tens of thousands of pounds, and his artworks have been displayed in notable locations such as Downing Street, the House of Lords, and St James’ Palace. However, the artist came under scrutiny at the start of 2023, after it was found that he had taken out an unjust bounce back loan on behalf of his charity, The Leanne Baker Trust.


In October 2020, Mr Baker took out a £45,000 loan through the government’s bounce back loan scheme, which was launched to support small and medium-sized businesses through the difficulties posed by the Coronavirus pandemic. Although charities could apply for bounce back loans, The Leanne Baker Trust had no overheads or employees, and was not entitled to take a loan of that amount. Bounce back loans allowed businesses to take a loan of up to 25% of a company’s annual turnover in order to safeguard jobs and keep companies afloat (for more information, you can read our blog about the bounce back loan scheme). Mr Baker claimed that his charity had an annual turnover of £200,000 in 2019, but the charity’s year-end accounts show that its turnover until 31 March 2019 only came to a total of £359, and to the year-end 31 March 2020 totalled £25,670. This false claim enabled him to take out a loan of £45,000, which Mr Baker then increased with a £5,000 top-up in March 2021 for a total of £50,000 – approximately 200% of the Company’s actual annual turnover.

Additionally, instead of using this money for the benefit of the trust, the artist spent £39,556 for his own personal use, including £26,682 to cover personal legal fees. The charity went into liquidation in September 2021. It was at this time that the company’s liquidator found that Mr Baker had unreasonably applied for the loan, and subsequently reported this misuse to the Insolvency Service. The full amount was recovered and repaid and Darren Baker was disqualified from acting as a company director for a period of seven years.

Implications of Being Disqualified as a Director

Whilst disqualified as a director, an individual cannot be involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company without the permission of the court. They are also unable to have others manage a company on their behalf (those managing a company on the behalf of a disqualified director could also face prosecution). In addition, a disqualified director is unable to:

·        Act as a trustee of an occupational pension scheme

·        Become a member of a police authority

·        Become a member of various health commissions and social care bodies

Contravening the order is a criminal offence and could result in a fine or up to 2 years of prison time. Furthermore, disqualified directors could also become personally liable for any debts of the Company that are incurred whilst they are contravening the order.

Speaking on the matter, Rob Clarke, the chief investigator at the Insolvency Service was reported to have said:

‘Despite the humanitarian purpose of the trust as established, Darren Baker took advantage of the support available during this difficult time for his own personal gain. His disqualification should serve as a warning to others that the Insolvency Service will take action whenever a director’s dishonesty threatens loss to the public purse, the consequence being a lengthy exclusion from trading with the benefit of limited liability.’

If you would like to discuss directors loan account further please do not hesitate to contact Chris Parkman on 01326 340579, or send an email at