Gooda Walker names reject cash offer

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The Independent Online
AT a tense three-hour meeting yesterday, 1,563 underwriting members in the Gooda Walker agency rejected their share of a pounds 900m 'olive branch' offer by Lloyd's of London to compensate them for losses.

Gooda Walker victims have been offered more than pounds 230m as part of the overall settlement, the largest share of the proposed pounds 900m deal. The 3,000 Gooda Walker members are facing pounds 835m worth of losses and have started legal proceedings against hundreds of companies in the market.

In the past three years all Lloyd's members have suffered pounds 5.5bn worth of losses from hurricane damage claims, pollution damage and asbestosis-related risks.

The Serious Fraud Office is investigating aspects of the affairs surrounding the management of the Gooda Walker agency.

Michael Deeny, the businessman leading an action group of Gooda Walker members, told a meeting attended by nearly 1,000 individuals that he was seeking 'a mandate to achieve a better result for you'. Members were told that they were likely to receive a better payout by pursuing court action. Virtually all those speaking at the meeting supported Mr Deeny and his committee in their fight for more money.

The odd dissident member who recommended acceptance of the Lloyd's offer was shouted down by cries of 'rubbish', 'nonsense', 'get him off'.

One underwriting member said, 'let us fight this all the way and give Lloyd's a bloody nose'. Another underwriting member said, 'let us take a stand and show Lloyd's and other action groups that we mean business'.

The final vote in support of continuing legal action and rejecting Lloyd's offer was 1,563 in favour, 300 against and five abstentions. The next big vote on the Lloyd's offer takes place on Friday when members of the Feltrim action group meet to consider whether to accept the offer. Members of the Feltrim agency are suffering hundreds of millions of pounds of losses and Lloyd's has offered just over pounds 200m as part of its compensation package.

If they reject the offer the Lloyd's peace plan will be dead. Lloyd's has said that it expects members receiving 70 per cent of the pounds 900m to accept. If they do not, the offer will not go through.

Already Lloyd's has extended the deadline for acceptance until 14 February.

(Photograph omitted)