THE ROW over why John Bairstow, the former chairman of Queens Moat Houses, failed to attend this week's annual meeting intensified yesterday when he blamed the board for his absence, writes Russell Hotten.
He said the company made a specific request that he did not turn up, and he criticised Andrew Coppel, the new chief executive, for not making this clear when shareholders rounded on Mr Bairstow.
He came under attack from several shareholders whose accusations ranged from bad manners to suggestions he was too scared to attend. Shares in Queens Moat, which owns 200 hotels, were suspended at 47p five months ago when the company said it was reviewing its financial position.
A statement put out yesterday by Mr Bairstow's solicitors, Bennett Metcalfe, said: 'In view of comments made by shareholders . . . Mr Bairstow wished it to be known that his non-attendance in an official capacity was at the specific request of the board and was of his own choosing. It is to be regretted that Mr Coppel did not make this clear when responding to shareholders' questions at the meeting.'
Queens Moat would make no official comment, but a spokesman pointed out that Mr Bairstow was no longer employed at the company so the board could not influence his decision to attend. Mr Bairstow resigned on 19 August in favour of Stanley Metcalfe, who was also absent from the meeting but appointed non-executive chairman at a board meeting directly
Mr Bairstow is still Queens Moat's largest single shareholder, with 8 million shares, and was entitled to attend the meeting in a personal capacity. Queens Moat denied suggestions that it gave the impression to shareholders that Mr Bairstow did not wish to attend. Mr Bairstow's solicitor, Alan Reed, declined to expand or clarify the statement.
An extract from a statement made by solicitors on behalf of John Bairstow, former chairman of Queens Moat Houses, published in Saturday's paper should have read that Mr Bairstow wished it to be known that his non-attendance in an official capacity at the company's annual meeting 'was at the specific request of the board and was not of his own choosing', and not as quoted.
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