Entrepreneur to put High Court fight with financial specialist behind him

Mobile phone entrepreneur John Caudwell said he aimed to put a High Court battle with a French financial specialist behind him and focus on charity work.

Mr Caudwell, founder of mobile phone firm Phones 4u, and former Coutts banker Nathalie Dauriac became embroiled in a dispute after setting up a wealth management company together.

Ms Dauriac made a number of complaints after leaving her job as chief executive of Signia Wealth Management in the wake of being accused of fiddling expenses.

She accused Mr Caudwell of launching an "unfair" expenses investigation and said she was forced out and lost shares worth more than £10 million.

French financial expert Nathalie Dauriac (Victoria Jones/PA)
French financial expert Nathalie Dauriac (Victoria Jones/PA)

Signia bosses said Ms Dauriac wrongfully claimed about £30,000 expenses.

They said her approach to expenses claims was brazen and she was guilty of gross misconduct.

A judge on Tuesday produced a ruling after analysing the dispute at the High Court in London last year.

Mr Justice Marcus Smith concluded that Ms Dauriac had been "constructively dismissed" three years ago.

The judge also concluded that there had been "no proper determination" of the value of Ms Dauriac's shares and said she was entitled to about £500,000.

But he said Ms Dauriac had been a "remarkably unsatisfactory witness".

The judge also said there was no conspiracy "intention" and he said an expenses investigation arose out of an "entirely proper concern" about Ms Dauriac's expenses.

He said Mr Caudwell had given "reliable" evidence.

Mr Caudwell said, after the ruling, that justice had been done and the truth had come to light.

He said Ms Dauriac had been given a fraction of the money she wanted.

Ms Dauriac said she was pleased that Mr Justice Smith had upheld her constructive dismissal claim.

She said she had been awarded "significant damages".

Mr Caudwell said he had "been to hell and back".

"The British legal system has delivered justice," he said in a statement.

"I now aim to put this deeply upsetting chapter behind me and look forward to the rest of 2018 with a complete focus on my charity and philanthropic work, knowing that the truth has finally come to light."

Mr Caudwell said he could not agree with the judge's valuation of Ms
Dauriac's Signia shares.

But he said the sum she had been awarded for those shares represented a "tiny fraction" of what she had been seeking.

"I am very pleased that the judge has today upheld my claim of constructive dismissal and found that the shares that were taken away from me and valued at just £2 were in fact worth more than £500,000," said Ms Dauriac.

"The court says there was a clear breach of contract and has awarded me significant damages."

She added: "When it came to my expenses, the judge took little or no account of my role as founder and co-owner of a multimillion pound business, dedicating my personal and social life to generating business and maintaining relations with clients."

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