Ex-Stobart Group chief executive's dismissal 'lawful'

Andrew Tinkler Image copyright PA
Image caption Andrew Tinkler denied any wrongdoing

The directors of the Stobart Group were within their powers to dismiss their chief executive from the firm's board, a High Court judge has ruled.

Andrew Tinkler was sacked last year by the Cumbrian firm, which owns Carlisle and Southend airports, for alleged breach of contract.

A statement from the group said it was "pleased" to receive the judgement.

Mr Tinkler has denied wrongdoing and noted in a statement that some of the group's claims had been dismissed.

Judge Jonathan Russen QC said the legal action arose out of a "state of insurrection" on the board.

The company said steps taken to remove Mr Tinkler had resolved this. But he "maintains that his struggle for a presence on the board is not over", the judge said.

The court heard Mr Tinkler tried to take control of the Stobart Group, talking to shareholders and "briefing against the board".

Mr Tinkler claimed he was removed for no good reason.

Image caption The Stobart Group owns Carlisle Airport

In the 186-page judgement, Judge Russen found mostly in favour of the directors, Iain Ferguson, Warwick Brady, John Coombs and Andrew Wood.

He concluded Mr Tinkler's dismissal from his employment with the group and as a director of the company, were both "lawful and valid".

However, he did not uphold the claim Mr Tinkler had participated in a conspiracy to change the composition of the board and oust Mr Ferguson as chairman.

The allegation Mr Tinkler incurred "excessive or unjustified expenses" was dropped by the firm in November.

A representative for Mr Tinkler said he was pleased the court rejected allegations he sought "to enrich himself at the expense of the company" and had "conspired to injure" it.

'Best interests'

However, the judge rejected Mr Tinkler's argument the other directors "acted for the improper purpose of retaining their control of the company".

He found they breached their duties by transferring 5.3m shares ahead of an Annual General Meeting, which it was claimed could have swayed the vote re-electing Mr Ferguson as chairman.

However, the judge said they acted "with the company's best interests in mind" in doing so.

The transfer of shares did not change the vote or make the re-election of Mr Ferguson void, he said.

Mr Tinkler, who was chief executive between 2007 and 2017, said the four board members "should all step down without further delay".

Stobart Group, which is worth more than £800m, is separate from the road transport firm Eddie Stobart Logistics.

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