Well, we do know that my boat had a valid VAT invoice but I was lead to believe that this was the only case where this was true - WARNING HEARSAY EVIDENCE!
In my case the boat was supplied by Fairline to Offshore Nautical CI Limited in the Channel Islands and then sold by them to the associated company Fairline Dorset Limited, which James Williams was a director of, and thence to me. I had an appropriate chain of documentation to substaniate this.
I have to say that my dealings with James Williams were all fine and of course I have no knowledge of my happened to the VAT the I paid and why. However he was convicted after a three week trial.
This thread seems to have focussed on the VAT position of the other boat purchasers but my big issue remains that a) people shoud use lawyers to buy expensive boats to protect themselves, and b) this is yet another case where a manufacturer of yachts holds out companies as distribution agents who then either misbehave or run into financial difficulties. If you are a manufacturer shouldn't you be controlling who can represent you, sell your product and use your name more carefully?
It all does make buying a new boat a little more nerve-racking than it should be!