Ex-champion's share deal goes sour

Motor racing driver Nigel Mansell is facing allegations of insider share dealing in a case now pending in the High Court's Chancery Division.

Mansell and his wife Rosanne are suing for return of money alleged to have been paid by them to a golfing friend, Anthony Collard, in a share transaction.

Collard, who it is claimed used the money as a deposit on a £650,000 farm in South Devon and to pay off debts, has since committed suicide.

The case made its debut at the High Court last month when Mansell sought an asset-freezing order to protect the money he claims he is owed.

However, at the hearing, which Mansell's lawyers attempted to have heard in chambers, it was alleged that Mansell himself had been involved in dubious conduct.

In opposing the freezing order, Mark Howard QC said Mansell had been persuaded to hand over money for shares in a New York high-tech computer company which was about to be floated.

He had been told the investment could put him in line to make a substantial profit.

But Howard, representing Jersey-based Walbrook Properties, told the court: "There is clear evidence of dubious conduct or possible criminality and fraud on the part of Mansell and Collard."

Walbrook is the owner of the farm on which Collard is said to have put Mansell's money as a deposit. Collard later defaulted on payments and as a result was ordered out. It is this money Mansell sought to protect with a freezing order.

Howard said the share deal between Mansell and Collard had involved buying shares for $3 which had already been underwritten for $8.

He claimed that when the Mansells learned of the fraud they failed to come forward immediately with information about what was happening.

The judge, who refused to make a freezing order, said of the allegations in relation to the involvement of the Mansells: "There was comment about the bona fides of the Mansells themselves in joining with Mr Collard. No doubt at the trial all sorts of matters will come out which have not been revealed."