Broker's staff quizzed over Archer's friend

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The Independent Online
DAVID HELLIER

Staff and former employees of James Capel, the City stockbrokers, are to be questioned by Department of Trade and Industry inspectors as part of the re-opened investigation into allegations of insider dealing in the shares of Anglia TV.

The inquiry follows an investigation last year into controversial share dealings in Anglia ahead of a takeover by the television group MAI, which focused on purchases ordered by Lord Archer, the Tory peer.

The DTI's fresh inquiries include an investigation of the purchase of 10,000 shares in Anglia by Karen Morgan Thomas, the former chief executive of a James Capel subsidiary, who made a profit of about pounds 22,000 on her dealings. The inquiry is being conducted with the utmost secrecy. Witnesses have been told they face possible criminal prosecution if they discuss the affair with outsiders.

Ms Morgan Thomas is reported to have been in regular contact with Lord Archer, whose wife sat on the board of Anglia at the time of the bid. The two are said to have contacted each other on the telephone several times during the relevant period. Ms Morgan Thomas has stated that she had learned nothing from Lord Archer about the MAI takeover. She said she had bought Anglia shares after reading a tip in a Sunday newspaper.

She ordered 10,000 shares in Anglia at 431p each on 4 January 1994, and Lord Archer placed orders for 50,000 shares in the name of a friend, Broosk Saib, on 13 January.

MAI first indicated it would be interested in bidding for Anglia in December 1993 and its interest was first discussed at an Anglia board meeting on 5 January. It was not until 18 Janaury that a firm bid for Anglia was announced to the Stock Exchange. This valued each Anglia share at 637p, a significant premium to the price at which Anglia's shares had been trading on the stock market.

Full story, page 16

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