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Court rules Stobart’s decision to dismiss ex-CEO Tinkler was “lawful and valid”

Andrew Tinkler had taken his old employer to court after he was removed as a director and an employee last summer
andrew tinkler
A further hearing will take place to determine what relief Stobart is entitled to

Stobart Group Ltd (LON:STOB) shares flew higher on Friday morning after it emerged victorious from the bruising legal battle with its former boss and major shareholder Andrew Tinkler.

Tinkler (pictured), who still holds a 5.9% stake in the company he used to run, had sued Stobart after he was dismissed last summer.

But a UK high court ruled that the aviation, energy and civil engineering group’s decision to remove him as both an employee and a director was a “lawful and valid act”.

READ: Stobart sees off boardroom rebellion

When Tinkler was re-elected at July’s annual general meeting, the court also backed Stobart’s decision to remove him again a day later.

Judge Russen QC found that Tinkler acted in breach of his fiduciary and contractual duties to the company, including when he criticised the board and agitated for the removal of chairman Iain Ferguson.

The judge rejected Tinkler’s counterclaim that he should be reinstated as an employee and a director.

Four directors – Iain Ferguson, Warwick Brady, John Coombs and Andrew Wood – were found not to have breached their duties to the company, except in respect of a transfer of 5.32mln shares to the Employee Benefit Trust ahead of the FTSE 250 group's AGM.

‘Strong commercial progress’

However, the court concluded that this transfer of shares was valid as a matter of law, and even if the votes for these shares had been discounted, Ferguson would still have been re-elected.

Stobart did not establish its claim of an unlawful conspiracy.

A further hearing will take place “in due course” to determine what relief Stobart is entitled to receive from Tinkler arising from the breaches of his fiduciary and contractual duties to the company.

“The matter of Mr Tinkler's valid dismissal from the company is now determined,” Stobart said.

“As reported in its RNS on 3 December, Stobart Group is delivering strong commercial progress in its core operating businesses; Stobart Aviation and Stobart Energy.”

Stobart shares rose 2.3% to 149.4p in late-morning trading on Friday.

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