Former chief executive Andrew Tinkler fired from Stobart board, company to launch legal proceedings 'imminently'

 
Emily Nicolle
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Stobart is the owner of London Southend Airport
Stobart is the owner of London Southend Airport

Former chief executive Andrew Tinkler has been dismissed from the Stobart Group board, with immediate effect.

The company will also be issuing legal proceedings against Tinkler imminently, for claims described in a letter from the company's chosen law firm as "a flagrant disregard for his [Tinkler's] fiduciary and contractual duties".

The letter went on to claim that Tinkler has made "unlawful use" of confidential company information, "embarked on a press campaign to discredit and dismantle the board on which he sits", and sought to "advantage himself at the expense of the shareholders".

Read more: Stobart chief accused of fostering 'bullying culture' over public row

Rosenblatt, the law firm in question, also highlighted an alleged attempt by Tinkler to "extract £30m from the company" by requesting that Stobart buy back 10m of his shares in September 2017, a move which was later blocked by the board, and attempts by Tinkler to structure a deal for Flybe to his advantage.

Warwick Brady, chief executive of Stobart Group, said: “Mr Tinkler’s actions, particularly in recent days, have threatened to destabilise the company and severely impacted my ability and that of my team to manage the business on a day to day basis and deliver the agreed strategy. This is against the interests of all of our shareholders.”

Stobart has also said it will be writing to shareholders to inform them of the change in due course, specifically with regards to Tinkler's "attempts to secure control over the company".

Tensions between Tinkler and the board of Stobart Group reached a high earlier this week, after Brady was accused of "bullying" employees to find out who Tinkler had won over in a dispute to replace the group's chairman, Iain Ferguson, with a more favoured nominee.

A statement from Stobart's board said that a letter it received purporting to be from shareholders requesting Ferguson's removal was "undated, unsigned and from unknown individuals", and so it is "perfectly proper" for Brady to discuss the letter further with the company's head of human resources.

As of today, around 20 of the group's executive management team have asked Ferguson to step down.

A spokesperson for Tinkler told City A.M. that today's news will not affect Tinkler's aims to remove Ferguson from his position, as Tinkler remains a 7.7 per cent shareholder.

The former CEO began legal proceedings against five of Stobart's board members last Friday, relating to what he said were defamatory statements made about him in company announcements earlier this year.

Read more: Stobart board battle hots up as pressure grows on chair

Tinkler later said in a statement regarding his dismissal:

"In the last few days, we've seen the Stobart chairman and CEO involved in allegations of bullying and ignoring their own senior team. Today's announcement confirms that they are desperately attempting to pre-empt the wishes of shareholders.

"They are also attempting to deny shareholders the right to determine the leadership of the Board. This is not how a listed company should behave."