Ward launches pounds 57m suit over Guinness

THOMAS WARD, the American lawyer who advised the former Guinness chief executive, Ernest Saunders, in the pounds 2.7bn takeover of Distillers, is suing 'a whole host of people involved in the deal', as well as Guinness, for pounds 57m.

Sean Dowling is one of the former directors of Guinness named in the two writs served in California by Mr Ward and his legal associates, William Dwyer and Elliot Kaplan.

It is understood that a large number of other figures involved in the 1986 bid battle are named in the claim, including other former Guinness directors and advisers, and 'members of the establishment in Scotland', according to sources close to the case.

Mr Ward is claiming dollars 85m for loss of income, out-of-pocket expenses and damage to his law practice, among other things.

He was cleared last year of stealing pounds 5.2m from Guinness, an amount relating to a 'success fee' he was paid for his role in the successful battle against Argyll for Distillers.

A spokesman for Guinness said yesterday: 'We believe that there is no substance to these claims and we will oppose it.' The company has already instructed lawyers in the US to seek to have the actions dismissed.

The dollars 85m claim does not include punitive or exemplary damages, which would be fixed by a trial. American juries are able to impose huge penalties in cases such as this.

The writs also allege that Guinness broke the Racketeering, Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act, the Rico Act, which was introduced to tackle organised crime.

If this claim succeeded, Guinness could be prevented from selling in California, which is one of the company's main markets.

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