Aviva boss threatens to sue over love affair

The boss of Britain's biggest insurance company and his lover warned yesterday that they were prepared to go to the courts to guard their privacy after their affair was made public.

Aviva made a public statement about the relationship between their chief executive, Andrew Moss, and a member of staff to avert rumours that company rules had been compromised.

Mr Moss, 51, a father of four who received £2.2 million in pay and bonuses last year, was conducting an affair with Deirdre Moffat, 45, a former director in Aviva's human resources department. It began several months ago, after she was seconded to his office on a company project. At the time, she was reporting directly to Mr Moss daily. Aviva has a company policy, common among major firms, forbidding long term relationships between members of staff where one reports directly to the other.

Before she was seconded to Mr Moss's office, Mrs Moffat, who now uses the name Dierdre Galvin, was head of HR for Aviva Investors, the insurer's fund management division. Her husband, Andrew Moffat, was head of HR for Aviva in Europe. She did not report directly to her husband, and he did not report directly to Mr Moss.

Mr Moss and Ms Galvin, who are now separated from their spouses and living together, put out a warning through their solicitors yesterday saying they wanted no more information about their private lives to be exposed.

Aviva's chairman, Lord Sharman, has defended Mr Moss's conduct and said it will not affect his position at the head of the £2.2bn company, which owns Norwich Union and the RAC roadside recovery division.

Ms Galvin has left the company within the past two weeks, by mutual consent, to avoid any apparent conflict. The terms of her departure were negotiated, independently of Mr Moss, by another director, Scott Wheway, who is head of the board's remuneration committee.

Mr Moss took over at Aviva in July 2006 from Lloyds, where he was finance director. He is best known for changing the firm's name in the UK from Norwich Union to Aviva, the name under which it was already trading in 20 countries on three continents.

He is best known for changing the firm's name in the UK from Norwich Union to Aviva, the name under which it was already trading in 20 countries on three continents. The name change was accompanied by a massive advertising campaign featuring, among others, the former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, who changed his name from Richard Starkey.

The timing of the revelations was particularly embarrassing, because it came as Aviva was preparing a major presentation to investors on plans to restructure European operations. The firm wants to make a "quantum leap" in its business operations on the continent, taking advantage of emerging Eastern European markets.

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