Founders see £75m fortune built on compensation culture fade

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The Independent Online

No less a man than Bill Clinton, the former US President, has lavished praise on Mark Langford, the 39-year-old entrepreneur who set up the Accident Group.

The Ferrari-driving Mr Langford, who worked with his wife Deborah, 37, made the record books last year for donating the biggest ever sum in the UK for a social cause when he gave £6m to the NSPCC.

His reward was the chance to rub shoulders with the former US president at an NSPCC dinner last December.

The couple founded the Accident Group in 1986. The pair are ardent Manchester City supporters and Amulet's financial adviser subsidiary First Advice - which is also in administration - sponsored the football club.

For years, the Langfords basked in the knowledge that they were running one of the country's most profitable businesses - creaming off a multi-million pound fortune in the process which helped them buy a £3m mansion in Cheshire with a lake and an indoor swimming pool.

But it was not until the Government abolished Legal Aid in April 2000 that the compensation culture that blossoms in the US really took off in the UK, helping the Langfords to hit the big time. The business grew to point where it had almost 600 solicitors working on claims.

This morning won't be the first time that Mr Langford has squirmed at seeing his name in the papers. His love for fast cars - he owns at least two Ferraris, a Bentley, a Porsche and two four-wheel drive vehicles - has earned him a 22-month ban for drunk driving and a £1,000 fine for careless driving after an accident in which he knocked over and killed a pensioner.

The couple's fortune was estimated at £40m in a recent survey, down from £75m the previous year. Which will be little consolation to their former employees.

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