Disgraced directors to face cash demand

A claim against four sacked directors of the Queen's Moat Houses (QMH) hotel group for repayment of unlawful share dividends, salaries and bonuses is scheduled to be heard in the High Court later this year.

The former directors are: John Bairstow, former chairman and joint managing director; Martin Marcus, former deputy chairman and joint managing director; David Hersey, former finance director; and Allan Porter, former deputy finance director.

They were sacked in 1993 after the hotel group came close to collapse.

The sackings followed a series of allegations. They included claims that the four had prepared and signed accounts which did not give a fair view of the company, concealed dubious deals that had taken place, made false representations over the state of the company and entered into wholly artificial transactions.

QMH's shares were suspended when profit forecasts of £85m were shown to be far beyond realistic expectations.

Estate agent Bairstow founded the group after converting his home in Essex into a hotel and then merging in the 1970s with Queen's Modern Hotels.

He has already been ordered by the High Court to repay £47,547 he received personally over the period on which the complaints centre.

That order was made at the High Court earlier this year by Mr Justice Nelson in a mammoth 468-page judgment. It followed a 130-day hearing in which the sacked men sued QMH for damages for wrongful dismissal.

The four claimed that the allegations made against them were "unfounded, unproven and exaggerated". They insisted that they had not been guilty of any intentional wrongdoing.

They claimed that all the decisions they had taken had been in accordance with current accounting practice and in the best interests of the company.

However, in his judgment the judge said: "Their misconduct in the performance of their duties as directors without doubt justified their dismissal."

Now in a further hearing, which will again rake over the allegations against the four men but in which the claimants are now QMH, the company will attempt to get back from the disgraced directors money they are said to have received but to which it is claimed they were never entitled.