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Ward files 'disappeared'

CONFIDENTIAL documents relating to an alleged illegal pounds 5.2m payment by Guinness to Thomas Ward, a former director of the company, disappeared after his lawyer was left alone to inspect the files, a court heard yesterday, writes Topaz Amoore.

The payment was made to Marketing and Acquisitions Consultants (MAC), a company controlled by Mr Ward. It followed Guinness's successful takeover bid for Distillers in 1986, when Mr Ward, an American lawyer, was a principal adviser to Ernest Saunders, the former chief executive of Guinness.

Mr Ward is charged with the theft of pounds 5.2m from Guinness, false accounting and dishonestly procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception.

He insists that the payment was a legitimate success fee for the advice given over bid negotiations.

Yesterday the court at the Old Bailey heard that Europlan, a company administrator in Jersey used by Mr Ward, discovered in April 1988 that its confidential MAC files were incomplete after a court order forced it to reveal their contents.

'One or two documents which I expected to be in the files I could no longer find,' said Michael Dee, managing director of Europlan.

The missing file notes related both to Mr Ward's original instructions for drawing up the pounds 5.2m invoice, and to the transfer of pounds 3m of that sum into a Swiss bank account belonging to Ernest Saunders.

The prosecution alleges that Mr Saunders and Mr Ward had embarked on a dishonest joint enterprise. Yesterday Mr Dee told the court he understood the pounds 5.2m was to pay Mr Ward and other parties.

Mr Dee said that as far as he was aware the files were intact until William Dwyer, Mr Ward's legal representative, inspected them in December 1987. Mr Dwyer had been left alone with the files for 'an hour or two'.

The trial continues today.