‘The Plumber’ asks FSA for help after ‘removal’ from Fluid Leader

He fought the regulator in 2004. Now Paul Davidson is complaining to it over non-exec controversy
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The Independent Online

Paul “The Plumber” Davidson, the controversial entrepreneur who overturned a £750,000 fine from the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in 2004, has asked the City regulator for its help following his “removal” from the board of the PLUS-listed company Fluid Leader.

In an ironic twist, it is believed that the 53-year-old Mr Davidson has contacted the regulator and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to complain about his removal as a non-executive director of the company, in which he is still a major shareholder.

Last year, Mr Davidson said he planned to make Fluid Leader “the biggest conglomerate in Britain”, and that the company’s wares could herald a “second industrial revolution”.

Fluid Leader, which was born out of a shell company in 2007, in essence offers a pipeline repair device.

The company was brought to market by the corporate adviser Atlantic Law, which has since been replaced by Rivington Street Corporate Finance.

In March, Mr Davidson raised £5m from Sheikh Faisal Al Qasimi, a member of the ruling family in Sharjah, for a 12 per cent stake in the company. The deal is thought to have included the commitment of a further £30m to build a production plant for the pipe repair technology in the Emirates.

Other shareholders in the firm include Phillip Cook, whose venture capital firm owned the now-collapsed off-licence chain Unwins. It is believed that Mr Cook and Mr Davidson had major disagreements about the direction of the company.

Shares in Fluid Leader have plummeted in value during the past year, from a high of 44.5p in June to just 7p at the close on Friday.

Meanwhile, it is believed that any chance of Mr Davidson resurrecting a £30m deal to buy the Spanish La Liga (first division) football club Real Mallorca has ended.

Sources close to Mr Davidson say he has admitted defeat after the lead backer of his bid pulled out.

In August last year, he said: “Am I the British Roman Abramovich? No, I’m a lot bigger than that.”

Mr Davidson had originally planned to advertise Fluid Leader on the club’s shirt, while he also promised to get a “great big boozer near the ground” to tempt in British expats and tourists to watch Real Mallorca play.

Reports have suggested that the Grande family, which owns the club, could take legal action against Mr Davidson after the collapse of the deal.

Mr Davidson first hit the headlines in 2004 after he proved that a senior FSA official spoke to a member of the appeal tribunal following accusations from the regulator of market abuse.

In 2005, the maverick entrepreneur was forced to file for bankruptcy, leaving creditors out of pockets to the tune of £20m.