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Norton has gone into administration. The Donington Hall-based manufacturer was facing an HMRC tax-bill winding-up order and an ongoing investigation by the Pensions Ombudsman into CEO Stuart Garner's use of three Norton pension funds in the day-to-day running of the company.

The development comes despite claims by Garner that the company had procured the backing of a major investor and leaves an unknown number of deposit-paid customers still waiting for their V4 machines.

Two other of Garner's companies are also in administration, including his 42-bedroom Priest House Hotel in Castle Donington.

Lee Causer, of administrators BDO, said: "We are taking all necessary steps to ensure that customers, staff and suppliers are supported through the administration process.

"Our job is to determine and execute the most appropriate strategy as swiftly as possible to protect creditors' interests, bearing in mind the need to minimise distress for all parties."

Founded in Birmingham, Norton began making motorbikes in 1902 and soon became associated with races such as the Isle of Man TT.

The company fell into financial difficulties in 2008 and was acquired by property developer Garner who said last May that the firm was performing strongly and planned to open a new factory.

However, this January he told local newspaper Birmingham Live that Norton owed tax authorities £300,000 and could be liquidated if it was not given more time to pay.

An oral hearing called by the Pensions Ombudsman is scheduled for 13 February in London.