Dispute erupts on Mirror board

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The Independent Online
DIRECTORS of Mirror Group Newspapers have turned on each other over allegations concerning who knew about the company's missing millions. They are also divided in their support for the proposed staff buyout, led by Richard Stott, editor of the Daily Mirror.

A board member told the Independent on Sunday that the account of events leading to Robert Maxwell's death published in the company's recent annual report contained only the barest details.

In the account, five directors are named as having been worried about Maxwell's activities. Of those, two - Ernest Burrington and Lawrence Guest - have since resigned. The five shared some of their concerns with other colleagues.

The simmering dispute has been exacerbated by three directors giving behind-the- scenes support to Mr Stott's planned staff buyout.

In his editorials, Mr Stott has attacked the board, recently the subject of an overwhelming no-confidence vote by MGN staff. One of his backers on the board said: 'I'm not the only director who has agreed to work with them if they gain control.'

A colleague is angry at their stance. 'If they are on the board and they are part of the buyout they have a conflict of interest which they should declare to the board. Nobody has yet declared a conflict of interest.' He said life in the MGN boardroom was 'at its most Machiavellian with people thinking 'if A wins I will be dead, if B wins I will be dead, but if C wins, I will stay alive'.'

The row will intensify the pressure on Sir Robert Clark, the MGN chairman, ahead of this week's annual shareholders' meeting. To try to placate pensioners and employees, he may offer a seat to Tony Boram, chairman of the Association of Mirror Pensioners.

Any move will come after Thursday's annual meeting and will not stop Mr Boram proposing a vote of no confidence in the board.

MGN's shares, suspended at 125p in December, will be relisted on the market after the meeting. Dealers are expecting them to open at 60p-70p.

News analysis, page 6

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