Man Utd lawyer denies conflict allegations

Manchester United lawyer Maurice Watkins has denied allegations of potential conflicts of interest and poor corporate governance.

Watkins, who is senior partner at James Chapman & Co, the main legal adviser to Manchester United for a number of years, has faced a string of media allegations that emerged as a result of the shareholder probe led by Cubic Expression Ltd, which owns over 25 per cent in the football club.

The investment company is owned by John Magnier and JP McManus. Magnier is in a legal dispute with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson over the ownership of the champion racehorse Rock of Gibraltar.

Watkins faced the allegations because of his position as a non-executive director and shareholder as well as the club’s main lawyer. He said there is no truth in the media allegations made of a potential conflict in the renegotation of Ferguson’s employment contract as the manager was advised independently by Aberdeen’s Paull & Williamson.

Watkins added the company strictly adheres to the Higgs guidelines on corporate governance, and while he is a non-executive director he is not held out as independent. The board does have three independent non-executive directors.

Watkins said: “We would never act where there is a conflict of interest.”