THE owner of Brighton Palace Pier has suffered a fresh blow to his troubled business.

Luke Johnson is chairman of the national cafe chain Patisserie Valerie but his deputy has now resigned.

The resignation comes a day after the group revealed the extent of an accounting scandal which pushed it close to collapse last year.

Lee Ginsberg has left Patisserie Holdings, the cake chain’s parent company, with immediate effect.

His departure follows the exit of non-executive director James Horler earlier this week and leaves Luke Johnson as the only remaining board member from before the crisis.

Mr Ginsberg stepped down from his position as chairman of the company’s audit committee in December to be replaced by new board member Jeremy Jensen.

The company said Mr Ginsberg would be focusing on his other commitments.

Patisserie unveiled the “devastating” extent of irregularities in its accounting, which included thousands of false entries into the company’s ledgers.

The firm said an initial investigation pointed to cashflow and profitability being worse than previously thought when the problem was first discovered in October.

It has also hired advisers at KPMG to carry out a review of all its options as it seeks to “recover from the devastating effects of the fraud, and to preserve value for its stakeholders going forward”.

The discovery of a black hole in the company’s accounts in October last year pushed it into a crisis which saw it almost cease trading.

Finance director Chris Marsh was arrested after having been suspended, and is still being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Reporting Council/

Also under investigation by the FRC are former Patisserie Valerie auditors Grant Thornton.

A rescue plan was passed by shareholders in November, resulting in the issue of £15 million worth of new shares.

Chief executive Paul May left the company later that month and was replaced by turnaround specialist Stephen Francis.

New finance boss Nick Perrin joined Patisserie in December, replacing predecessor Chris Marsh who had quit in October.

Meanwhile, it also emerged that Mr Johnson has pledged to step back from his other commitments at a range of leisure companies to focus on the recovery of Patisserie Holdings.