18 FEBRUARY 2019
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The dismissal of former chief executive Andrew Tinkler by the Stobart Group, owner of Southend Airport, was lawful, a judge ruled on Friday. Tinkler had contested the sacking.
Judge Russen QC said Tinkler had breached his contractual and fiduciary duties in four ways, the first by agitating among major shareholders for the removal of the chairman and criticising the board’s management.
He was also said to have shared a confidential budget for a wood-burning incinerator the company owned with Edinburgh Woollen Mill boss Philip Day; and written to shareholders, copying in all company staff, urging them to remove Ferguson.
In the fourth breach, Tinkler was said to have orchestrated a letter from members of the firm’s executive leadership team and an employee petition in his support.
The judge also found four Stobart directors – Ferguson, chief executive Warren Brady, non-executive director John Coombs and non-executive director Andrew Wood – had breached their duties.
This occurred when the four transferred more than 5m shares from the company’s treasury to the employee benefit trust which were then voted in support of Ferguson’s re-appointment to the board at the company’s annual general meeting.
Stobart had also claimed Tinkler had launched an unlawful conspiracy to topple the board, but the judge ruled against this.
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