Ward 'never thought to disclose 5.2m pounds fee'

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THOMAS WARD, the former Guinness director accused of stealing pounds 5.2m from the company, told a court yesterday it 'never crossed his mind' to report to the main Guinness board that he received what he insists was a success fee for that amount.

He told the court at the Old Bailey that Price Waterhouse, Guinness's auditors, said there was no need for him personally to disclose the payment.

Mr Ward, 53, an American lawyer, insists the pounds 5.2m payment, made in May 1986, was a legitimate fee for advice given during Guinness's pounds 2.7bn bid for Distillers. Yesterday the jury heard that he had sought 'clarity and perfect understanding' over his fees, although he also agreed that nothing had been written down.

'That's not the way I do business,' he said. The payment was, he said, negotiated with and agreed by Ernest Saunders, the former Guinness chief executive. It was to comprise one-fifth of 1 per cent of the bid's eventual value.

'Between us we understood exactly what our agreement was . . . He looked me right in the eye and I looked him in the eye and that was the agreement, a straightforward agreement,' Mr Ward said. 'It was clear we had a meeting of minds.' The trial continues today.