Winchester chief quits to end negative talk

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Gary Smith resigned yesterday as chief executive of Winchester Entertainment, the film company that has been dogged by share dealing allegations, and said he wanted to put an end to his negative association with the company.

Mr Smith, who founded Winchester in 1993, was cleared of insider dealing by the Financial Services Authority last summer after selling £592,000 of Winchester shares 10 days before a profits warning. The warning saw the shares fall 63 per cent in one day.

"I just want to get on with my life. People always refer to the FSA investigation but I was completely exonerated and it is not fair on myself, my family or on the company that it always comes up," Mr Smith said yesterday.

His successes at Winchester include Last Orders, featuring Sir Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins, and Shooting Fish with Kate Beckinsale. But Winchester has struggled to cope with the downturn in the media business and last year posted a loss of £9m.

Mr Smith still owns 10 per cent of Winchester, which recently acquired a US films company, Cobalt.