Florida court may quiz partners over perjury claims

TWO City partners may have to appear before a Florida court to respond to allegations that they lied in affidavits.

Guy Hardaker, of Holman Fenwick & Willan, and Patrick Sherrington, of Lovell White Durrant, are key witnesses of oil giant Exxon in its legal battle with ex-Hong Kong barrister Michael Ford, who claims the company ruined his career.

Earlier this month Magistrate Judge Dube, of Florida's southern district court, ordered an evidentiary hearing to assess Ford's claims that a motion to have his case thrown out contained fraudulent evidence by Exxon.

Although Judge Dube did not name Hardaker and Sherrington in his order for the hearing, they may have to give oral evidence in the US about affidavits they signed in support of Exxon's motion.

It is understood that, if called, they will vigorously deny ford's claims.

Ford claims Exxon destroyed his career after he blew the whistle on an alleged cover-up following a 1992 explosion at a Hong Kong power station which killed two people. The power station was owned by Exxon subsidiary China Light and Power (CLP), for which Ford acted.

CLP sued Ford in Hong Kong for breach of confidentiality, winning £30,000 damages.

Attempts by Ford to appeal against the damages failed after the Hong Kong Court of Appeal concluded in January that “not only was there no real evidence of the cover-up alleged, but it would be absurd”.

Both Sherrington and Hardaker, who were retained by CLP, declined to comment.