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Ward 'spoke of advice fee'

THOMAS WARD, the former Guinness director accused of stealing pounds 5.2m from the company, told a colleague that he would be taking a fee of pounds 250,000 or dollars 250,000 for advice given during Guinness' bid for Distillers in 1986, a court heard yesterday.

Mr Ward, 53, an American lawyer, is accused of theft, false accounting and dishonestly procuring the execution of a valuable security. He maintains that pounds 5.2m paid by Guinness into his company, Marketing and Acquisitions Consultants, based in the Channel Islands, was a legitimately earned success fee.

Sir Charles Fraser, a solicitor who practised in Edinburgh before retiring last year, and a fellow adviser on the pounds 2.7bn bid, said he remembered talking to Mr Ward about his fees but could not remember whether the 250,000 figure was in pounds or dollars.

Sir Charles told the court at the Old Bailey that he thought Mr Ward deserved a better reward than either pounds 250,000 or dollars 250,000 for the 'crucial' work he had put into the bid, which at the time was close to success. 'I said (to Mr Ward) it was not nearly enough considering he had been away from home for goodness knows how long,' Sir Charles said. He said Mr Ward replied 'something like: 'That is the way I operate'.'

Earlier, Alan Bailey, group chief accountant at Guinness at the time of the bid, told the jury he understood from a meeting with Mr Ward that the pounds 5.2m payment was for work on US distributor rights and trademarks.

He said he thought it was work carried out on Mr Ward's behalf. 'For an amount of that size I would expect it was payment for other people,' he said.

Mr Bailey agreed with Andrew Trollope QC, for the defence, that Olivier Roux, former finance director of Guinness, had said to him that in America a payment of the size allegedly made to Mr Ward would constitute a 'reasonable success fee' on a large bid.

The trial continues tomorrow.