Finance chief quits Midshires suddenly

Stephen Bright, the finance director at Birmingham Midshires, who took over the post in December 1995 after the sudden departure of his predecessor, has also quit the post at short notice. Mr Bright, who was also development director at the building society, is not believed to have left to take up another post.

But a Birmingham Midshires spokesman said the former finance chief would continue to act for the society in a consultative role. The sudden departure of Mr Bright brings to an end an 11-year career with Birmingham Midshires.

It follows an equally rapid exit by his predecessor, Barry Cameron Smail, who left after just a few months with a pounds 180,000 pay-off, taking his pay for 1995 to pounds 285,000, plus a pounds 10,000 pension contribution.

Mr Cameron Smail was found dead in a fume-filled car in May this year, near his home in Farnham, Surrey.

The coroners' officer in Guildford said the dead man's widow had made a statement saying that her husband's departure followed personality clashes between her husband and Midshires' high-profile chief executive, Michael Jackson. But this was not being treated as the cause of his death.

Birmingham Midshires, the UK's 10th-largest society, is regarded as one of the more aggressive in its sector. It has been stalking a smaller Midlands rival, West Bromwich, and is known to favour a takeover by a bigger financial institution.

The society is well known for its high standards of service to customers. It has recently attracted criticism for not only raising its mortgage interest rates, as many other lenders have done, but also cutting savings rates at a time when others have been pushing them up.

Mr Bright, aged 47, is a chartered accountant who joined the society in 1985. He was appointed finance director in 1990 and later took on the additional responsibility of development.