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Planet Organic founders fall out

Who's Suing Whom
AFTER THREE years in business together, the two founders of Planet Organic, an innovative supermarket selling naturally grown produce, are parting company.

Renee Elliott and Jonathan Dwek went to court after their different attitudes and objectives towards the store in Westbourne Grove, west London, strained their business relationship.

As equal shareholders only the courts had the power to overcome the deadlock, and as a result of the court's recent decision, Ms Elliott will buy out Mr Dwek's shareholding. Mr Dwek has resigned his directorship and is no longer involved with the company. The court has yet to fix the price at which Ms Elliott will buy out Mr Dwek's shares.

Ms Elliott, 33, born in Mississippi, set up Planet Organic with Mr Dwek in 1995. Attracting a fashionable Notting Hill clientele, the store won Organic Retailer of the Year in 1997. However, plans to open new stores have not been realised.

Mr Dwek and his family are closely associated with John Aspinall, the owner of zoos and casinos. Following the case Mr Dwek said: "I will be free to create my own business, based on my firm principles and beliefs."

Ms Elliott said: "Planet Organic continues to go from strength to strength and I am relieved our difficulties have been resolved. I wish Jonathan well."

A HONG KONG-BASED manufacturer of computer parts is suing the administrators of a UK company that went bust last year over ownership of components worth $430,300 (pounds 265,000).

PC Partner of Shan Mel Street, Fo Tan, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong, claims it still owns a shipment of components which it supplied to Bascrown. Bascrown went bust on 5 January 1998, and Dermot Power and David Swaden of BDO Stoy Hayward's Manchester office were appointed administrators.

PC Partner is now suing Mr Power and Mr Swaden as well as Bascrown. The company says it wrote to the administrators in February last year saying it had not been paid for the components concerned, and that it retained legal title to them.

The components include master tower cases and motherboards supplied to Bascrown between September 1997 and December of the same year.

NATIONAL POWER and British Coal have been sucked into a border dispute over a former open-cast coal mine near Leeds, which was divided between the two enterprises in the lead-up to privatisation.

A third party, White Rose Development Enterprises, now wants to redevelop part of the former mine at Skelton Grange, Newsam, Leeds. This has prompted National Power to go to court to clarify exactly how the ownership of the land is divided.

The saga began when the now-defunct Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) and British Coal decided to do a "land swap" on the disused site in 1987. The CEGB was allotted 142 acres of the land and British Coal ended up with 34 acres.

The CEGB was subsequently broken up prior to privatisation in 1990 and National Power ended up owning its portion of the land at Leeds. Now National Power is worried that the original map used to define ownership is too vague to be relied on, and wants the court, in effect, to re-draw it.

National Power says the map used was produced on "too small a scale" and did not identify "physical features which had arisen by reason of open-cast mining activities and the creation of lagoons for the disposal of ash from CEGB's power station".

To make matters worse the map was not based on a new survey but on an existing Ordnance Survey map that used a metric grid, says National Power.

The deed plan upon which ownership of the site is based uses a grid based on imperial measurements.

THE EX-MANAGER of the chart-topping girl band All Saints is suing them for breach of contract and unpaid fees after they sacked him last month.

Shaznay Lewis, Melanie Blatt and the Appleton sisters, Nicole and Natalie, announced at the beginning of February that they were no longer working with John Benson.

Arguments over the manager have divided the band, whose hits include "Never Ever" and "Under The Bridge", for about a year. Mr Benson, a former session musician who linked with All Saints before their success two years ago, had an alliance with London Records boss Tracy Bennett, who signed the band.

Mr Benson is basing his claim on a management contract he said was signed by the band on 3 December 1996. He says that members of the band told him on 26 January and 2 February that they no longer wanted to work with him, and he has suffered "a substantial loss of reputation" as a result.