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Thursday, 30 August, 2001, 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK
Claims Direct sale provokes outrage
Scene of a road accident
The share price has crashed from 360p to 10p
The founders of the personal injury specialist Claims Direct have prompted outrage after selling their troubled firm for a large profit just three weeks after buying it back from troubled investors.

Shareholders were advised by independent directors to sell their shares at 10p to co-founders Colin Poole and Anthony Sullman who took the company private earlier this month.

But after just three weeks, the founders have sold 49 million of the shares on to entrepreneur Simon Ware-Lane at a deferred price of 16p.

It has been a rough ride for investors who bought shares at a flotation price of 180p and then saw them rise to a peak of 360p last year.

Wave of bad publicity

The debacle came after a BBC Watchdog programme featured allegations that some people winning compensation cases in court were seeing their damages virtually wiped out by Claim's Direct fees.

The bad publicity forced the troubled company to issued three profits warnings this year.

And in June, it reported it a 20m loss for the full-year, compared with a profit of 10m last year.

Mr Ware-Lane, whose interests include Claimline, a competitor to Claims Direct, denied grabbing a bargain deal at the expense of shareholders.

"It is my aim to provide a service to individuals to access the justice system, based on the merits of a personal injury case, and not on their ability to pay," Mr Ware-Lane told the BBC radio four's Today programme.

Mr Ware-Lane also has an option to buy the rest of the co-founders stake in Claim's Direct over the next three years at between 30p and 120p.

See also:

26 Jun 01 | Business
Claims Direct losses mount
10 Aug 01 | Business
Claims Direct climb down
09 Aug 01 | Business
New threat to Claims Direct
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