'Quiet assassin' offers olive branch to defeated board

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Anthony Bolton, the senior Fidelity fund manager who led the campaign against Michael Green, said he would have gunned for Charles Allen had he been set to become the new chairman of a merged ITV.

Mr Bolton also told 'The Independent' yesterday that he would he happy for Carlton to nominate another executive director for the board of the future ITV plc, though not, obviously, for the position of chairman. Fidelity and other rebel shareholders have demanded an independent non-executive chairman be named to chair the board.

"We wanted ITV to start with a clean sheet, with a new chairman ... it will be up to that new chairman to look around and assess the strength of the rest of the board," he said.

Mr Bolton added that he had never demanded both Mr Green and Mr Allen be ousted, although he said that he "could see" how it was possible to form that impression at his meeting on 8 October with the senior non-executive directors from Carlton and Granada.

Mr Bolton said that at the meeting he told Sir Brian Pitman, Carlton's senior non-executive director and his Granada counterpart, Sir George Russell, that he "still had major issues with the management team" proposed. He did not specify names at that point. He then began to canvass opinion among other shareholders: "There was not a single other shareholder I spoke to that did not share my concerns. I got a strong message back from them and a consensus emerged: the position to change was that of the chairman."

Had Mr Allen been the proposed chairman, instead of its chief executive, it would have been his head that Fidelity would have gone for, Mr Bolton said. He added that, as he canvassed opinion in the City and the media industry "there was a wide-ranging view" Mssrs Green and Allen could not work together and that such a difficult relationship was "not in shareholders' best interests".

Mr Bolton added that he objected to the label of "quiet assassin" he has been given: "I don't think I'm an assassin. That implies a one-way process. Here I wanted to replace one person with someone else, who'd be better for the job," he said.