Woodfood may settle with Olympus over unfair dismissal

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The eagerly awaited $60m (£38m) tribunal claim for unfair dismissal brought by the whistleblower Michael Woodford against Olympus, his former Japanese employer, was postponed three times yesterday amid speculation that the two sides are attempting to strike a settlement out of court.

The hearing was initially postponed from 10am to midday and then till 2pm. Finally, nearer to 3pm than 2pm, it was postponed until today. No reason was given for the postponements.

Media from Japan, the UK and elsewhere were at the anonymous, grey courtroom near London's Docklands, keen for details on a scandal which has shocked the corporate world. These would emerge first from witness statements, which will never see the light of day if a settlement is reached out of court.

Mr Woodford is suing for damages amounting to 10 years of lost earnings. He was dismissed only two weeks into the job of president and chief executive for persistently questioning a string of obscure and hefty payments linked to acquisitions. His inquiries led to the uncovering of a $1.7bn accounting fraud.

Mr Woodford had been at Olympus for 30 years, working his way up to become the first non-Japanese executive to reach the top of a Japanese company.