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Angry scenes at meeting of Lloyd's members

ANGRY underwriting members of Lloyd's last night clashed with the market's authorities over the pounds 6bn of losses that have flooded into the market.

The battle came at an extraordinary general meeting called by Claud Gurney, an underwriting member. He wanted Lloyd's to admit that it was not exempt from paying damages to anyone who suffered losses in the market.

During the meeting, held on the trading floor at the close of business, Mr Gurney called on Peter Middleton, Lloyd's chief executive, 'to lead from the front and not from behind'.

But after Mr Gurney launched a personal attack on the chairman of Lloyd's regulatory board, Brian Garraway, Lloyd's chairman, David Rowland, told Mr Gurney: 'Your level of conduct goes even below your standards.'

Mr Gurney was supported in his calls for more accountability at Lloyd's by another member, Philip Dinkel, who claimed that the authorities knew about the scale of the possible losses arising from asbestosis-related insurance risks as early as 1974. But he said that it was not until 1988 that the members were told about the problems, which have contributed greatly to the losses.

'Lloyd's today simply cannot plead innocence,' he told the audience of 1,100 members. 'Names demand that the Lloyd's council goes back to the drawing board and in all conscience comes up with a scheme of restitution to its names.'

After the meeting, which cost the market pounds 130,000 to mount, Lloyd's began a postal ballot of its members on three resolutions relating to accountability, the introduction of corporate investors in the market, and support of the market's business plans.