David Abell's reputation under attack

Thomas Jourdan, the Corby trouser press consumer products group, launched a broadside against the reputation of David Abell, the controversial former chairman of the Suter mini-conglomerate, as it attempted to enlist the support of shareholders to defeat his motion to unseat most of the existing board. Since December Mr Abell has built a stake of 28 per cent in the company and it has emerged that the Takeover Panel now deems him to be acting in concert with holders of a further 11 per cent. He has requisitioned an extraordinary general meeting for next month to have the current non-executive directors and the chairman, Keith Whitten, replaced by himself and his business colleague, Jon Pither.

But in a letter to shareholders, the company draws attention to the highly critical 1993 Department of Trade and Industry inquiry into some of Mr Abell's previous share buying activities. The inspectors' report exonerated him of any wrongdoing but criticised his "misleading and inconsistent statements and evidence". Jourdan claims: "Mr Abell's past record is controversial and unimpressive. He should not be allowed to take over your company." Mr Abell refused to make any comment on the allegations levelled at him yesterday. He denied any immediate intention to launch a takeover, but implied that he had the financial backing if he wanted to do so.