Guinness director 'faked evidence'

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The Independent Online
Thomas Ward, the Guinness director charged with stealing pounds 5.2m from the company, was yesterday recalled to Old Bailey witness stand and accused of fabricating evidence.

Mr Ward, 53, an American lawyer who acted as principal adviser to Ernest Saunders, the former Guinness chief executive, during the contested bid for Distillers in 1986, is the last defendant to come to trial in a legal saga which has been running for five years.

Mr Ward claims the pounds 5.2m - of which pounds 3m was lodged in a secret Swiss bank account owned by Mr Saunders - was a success fee from Guinness. The prosecution says he and Mr Saunders stole it, splitting it between them.

Mr Ward fought extradition for two years before voluntarily returning from the US for trial. Yesterday the prosecution accused him of misleading the court with a 'bogus document' designed to corroborate his claim that he was borrowing Mr Saunders' account because he did not have his own.

Victor Temple, for the prosecution, alleged that a letter submitted by the defence which was written by Mr Ward to his brother in August 1986, included details of a bank account which did not at that time exist, as well as details of Mr Saunders' Swiss account.

Mr Ward's brother, who was executor of his will, was apparently being told what to do should Mr Ward die. But the name and number of an account in Washington D C had been supplied by Mr Ward in August, when the account was not opened until December, Mr Temple said.

The jury was shown three bank documents relating to the National Bank of Washington account, showing it was not opened until 11 December 1986. 'I suggest this is a bogus document produced by you to mislead, among others, this court and jury,' Mr Temple told Mr Ward. 'And you know that is not true,' Mr Ward replied.

'Well, can you explain how it comes to be that this account and this account number were not in existence in August 1986?' 'No, because I believe it was.'

Mr Temple asked him whether, during the extensive civil litigation undertaken by Guinness, he had ever produced the letter in support of his case. 'I don't believe so,' Mr Ward said.

Mr Justice Turner asked Richard Glass, of Riggs Bank of Washington which took over National Bank of Washington's assets, whether he had come across a case where an account number was allocated before the account was opened. 'No,' he replied.

Mr Glass agreed with Andrew Trollope QC, for the defence, that one of the documents could have been signed before the account was opened.

The trial continues today.