Disgraced former Spar retailer Lawrence Hunt has spoken exclusively to The Grocer from his cell, after being jailed for 21 months just prior to Christmas for tax evasion. Hunt joked he had landed a top job ­ filling shelves in the shop for just £10 a week. He has since moved from Walton Prison in Liverpool to Kirkham Open Prison, Preston. Hunt said the reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated. "To put the record straight, I was guilty of evading tax to the total of £160,000. It is all in how you use the figures ­ to the advantage of the Inland Revenue for maximum publicity or the actual net amount." Court reports had suggested Hunt squirrelled away as much as £1m over a 20 year period, amassing a small fortune and buying luxurious villas in the French Riviera. This is denied by his family, who said he owns only a one bedroomed apartment in Nice, bought 15 years ago. Hunt was jailed for a total of 21 months but is expected to be released by the middle of this year after serving half his sentence on remand. In order to avoid embarrassment to bakery chain Warburtons, whom Hunt was convicted of defrauding on discount payments, he said: "The bread discounts refer to the period of the bread supplier wars' many years ago." The future of Lawrence Hunt & Co, was not in doubt, he said. The Hunt stable of around 25 Spar stores in the Lancashire region continue to be managed by his family. "I assure all who may be interested that our company is not at risk due to my misdemeanours. All taxes past and present are paid in full. "We are trading well, being 6% up year on year, like for like, and enjoy the full and continued support of wholesaler James Hall and the Royal Bank of Scotland." {{NEWS }}