Stobart Group high court battle gets under way

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A judge has begun to oversee a High Court battle featuring bosses at a multimillion-pound infrastructure business which started up in an isolated Lake District village half a century ago.

Bosses at the Stobart Group, which began life when founder Eddie Stobart went into business as an agricultural contractor in Hesket Newmarket, Cumbria, during the 1960s, have sued former chief executive Andrew Tinkler.

They say Mr Tinkler conspired with other businessmen to harm the company’s interests.

Andrew Tinkler
Mr Tinkler’s former bosses at the Stobart Group are suing him over allegations he conspired with others to harm the company’s interests (Victoria Jones/PA)

Mr Tinkler, who was chief executive of the business between 2007 and 2017, denies wrongdoing, saying he was removed for no good reason, and has counter-claimed.

Judge Jonathan Russen began overseeing a trial, which is due to last more than two weeks, in London on Monday.

An Eddie Stobart truck
Mr Tinkler disputes the allegations made against him (Katie Collins/PA)

They said there had been a “significant campaign” to oust chairman Iain Ferguson and said Mr Tinkler had used the words: “Either Mr Ferguson or me.”

Mr Tinkler disputes the allegations made against him.

The judge was told that Mr Tinkler did not like the “briefing against the board” characterisation.

Lawyers said he had spoken of having concerns about Mr Ferguson’s chairmanship and being worried that Stobart was going “off-strategy”.

Barrister Richard Leiper QC, who leads the Stobart Group legal team, told the judge: “The company would say this is a man who truly has his own interests at heart.”

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