A CARRIBEAN resort developer, which hasn’t built holiday homes on time, is using “gagging orders” to silence disgruntled investors.

Harlequin Property, based in Honywood Road, Basildon, has got those who have been refunded their deposits to enter into legal contracts not to discuss their investment.

Similar legal action has also been used to shut down websites set up by investors to highlight their experiences.

One investor said: "We had to sign it to get our refund, the contract states we would have to return the money if we speak to anyone."

Harlequin's solicitor Carter Ruck said: “Where Harlequin has agreed refunds, for the very small proportion of investors who have requested them, it is commonplace for that agreement to be subject to a confidentiality provision. That is entirely normal in any commercial resolution.”

Harlequin, which boasts celebrities such as TV property guru Phil Spencer and football pundit Andy Townsend as clients, has also defaulted on repaying some investors’ refund or interest instalments this month.

About 40 Harlequin clients have contacted the Echo.

A south Essex woman, who is being paid back an around £50,000 deposit in monthly instalments, said: “This month the payment has not come in. We are very worried. Harlequin said it was a banking issue. I am not convinced.”