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Interflora board refuses to yield

The battle over the sacking of Interflora's management took a decisive turn yesterday when the new board of directors, appointed during a stormy mass meeting almost two weeks ago, confirmed that they would not yield to calls for a postal ballot to endorse their election.

Last night the 11 former directors fired at the meeting stopped short of launching legal action against their successors, but warned they would make a decision on whether to take the row to court by next Tuesday. A spokesman for the old board, led by the former chairman, David Parry, said they wanted to consult members to gauge the likely backing for legal action.

In a strongly worded statement yesterday, Mr Parry accused the new board of "total disregard" for the views of members. Some 470 florists sympathetic to the previous directors had signed a petition supporting their reinstatement.

Mr Parry said his rivals were "hiding behind the law because they know that a postal ballot of the entire membership could see them removed." He added: "That's not leadership, it's cowardice and the sooner they are removed from office the better."

The six-strong replacement board was elected at the mass meeting of florists following a rebellion over proposals to raise the level of subscription charges for members. The organisation is a mutually owned company made up of 2,600 independently owned and run florists. Though nearly 1,000 florists voted at the meeting the old board asked for a postal ballot of the entire membership, a move they said was in line with Interflora's articles of association.

The opposing camps have both now received legal advice which they claimed supported their case.

Geoff Hughes, the Bristol florist appointed as acting chairman, said: "I believe the EGM was probably the largest democratic vote of members. I am now asking members to accept the views of the majority."