Mr Staples is suing United Utilities, based in the North-east, for damages of up to pounds 2m for unfair dismissal. United is defending the action. Mr Staples is also taking United to an industrial tribunal, and is seeking extra compensation for bonus and share option packages.
Mr Staples was sacked after a very public falling out with Sir Desmond Pitcher, the controversial chairman of United who himself was forced to leave United last month due to shareholder pressure. United denies that Mr Staples' decision to leave his wife and move in with Sir Desmond Pitcher's former secretary was a factor in his departure.
Mr Staples will take over at Amey from Eddie King, the current chief executive, next Monday. Mr King will continue as a director until he retires in February 1998, when he will be 62.
At his new job Mr Staples will be paid a package of around a quarter of a million pounds. Neil Ashley, chairman of Amey, said Mr Staples' pay would be "commensurate to others in the industry - similar to Eddie King's".
Mr King had a one-year rolling contract under which he received pounds 255,000 for the year to December 1996, which included a basic salary of pounds 217,000 plus pensions contributions of pounds 40,000.
Mr Ashley said Amey was not worried by the controversial circumstances in which Mr Staples left United. "Virtually everyone I spoke to gave him a good write-up. I understand a clash of personalities occurred. That certainly doesn't reflect on his capability, skills or experience."
The chairman described Mr Staples as being a leading light in contracting for the last 20 years, with a successful spell at Tarmac. He also had experience of facilities management, the area which Amey has earmarked for expansion, Mr Ashley said .
Amey plans to make a series of acquisitions, and Mr Staples will be in charge of deciding what to go after, the chairman said.
"He was the driving force behind the link-up between Norweb and North West Water which produced United Utilities," Mr Ashley said.
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