Ex-minister settles internet legal claim

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The Independent Online

Sir Richard Needham, the former Conservative Trade minister, and Tony Caplin, a director of investment bank Durlacher, have settled a legal claim from IEQ, the internet firm where they were once directors.

Both paid £27,500. The claim had demanded the recovery of severance payments of £25,000 made to the two men, plus interest and costs. IEQ had also claimed damages for their part in a £377,400 invest- ment in Isle of Wight Cable and Telephone Company (IoWCT), which the writ had alleged was "in breach of their fiduciary duties". Greg Lloyd Smith, the new chief executive of IEQ, said he was dropping the IoWCT issue relating to the two men. They left IEQ shortly after the investment was made.

Mr Smith is still pursuing a claim worth around £1m against other former directors including John Mackay, the chief executive of Seymour Pierce, Chris Foster, a director of building company Wiggins Group, and John Shaw.

The lawyer representing Sir Richard and Mr Caplin said: "For purely commercial reasons, Sir Richard recognised that the costs of fighting the multi-party litigation would be considerable and offered the sum of £27,500 to settle the entire claim. That pay- ment was accepted by IEQ plc and the litigation against him has now concluded."

The continuing legal action demands the return of invest- ments made in Radio First and IoWCT, plus damages, costs and interest. A £200,000 investment in Radio First is said to have led to a "conflict of interest" because Radio First's broker and adviser was Seymour Pierce, where Mr Mac- kay was the chief executive. It is also alleged that Seymour Pierce and several of IEQ's directors had shareholdings in IoWCT, introducing "conflicts of interest". IoWCT is now in administration.

All the remaining defendants have said they are contesting the action.