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Last Updated: Monday, 16 January 2006, 11:48 GMT
Libel action against FT adjourned
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An out-of-court settlement is now expected
Stockbroker Collins Stewart's libel case against the Financial Times (FT) has been adjourned for 24 hours pending attempts to settle the case.

Collins Stewart is suing the FT for earnings it claims it lost as a result of articles published in 2003.

The case centres on the paper's coverage of allegations of misconduct made by analyst James Middleweek against his former employers.

The 37m ($65m) case had been scheduled to start on Monday.

"The position this morning is that the parties are in discussions and it is hoped - and indeed expected - that these may bear fruit," said Richard Spearman QC.

"If that happens, this litigation will be resolved and need not trouble the court further."

Damaged reputation

Collins Stewart first launched its libel action after a piece by the FT entitled "Reputations on the line at Collins Stewart" appeared in August 2003.

The article included claims by James Middleweek, a former equity analyst at Collins Stewart, who accused the brokerage of regulatory breaches in a document he sent to the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

The FSA eventually cleared Collins Stewart of insider trading and malpractice and the broker won damages from Mr Middleweek's former solicitor who admitted that his actions had enabled a libellous document to be passed on to the press.

The broker's libel case against the FT rests on whether Mr Middleweek's document is deemed to have been in the public domain and therefore worthy of publication.

Lost business

The FT claims it was entitled to report on what was contained in the document, while Collins Stewart argues that it was the victim of allegations that should not have been made public.

In 2004, a special damages claim that threatened to cripple the FT was struck out by the High Court.

Collins Stewart had alleged in the 230.5m claim that the article caused a 16% drop in its share price.

But the broker decided to pursue its 37m claim for lost business, which was due to reach the High Court on Monday.

The trial was scheduled to start in April 2005 but each side had to revise its case after Collins Stewart was allowed to include more articles in its claim.

Former FT editor Andrew Gowers and Terry Smith, chief executive of Collins Stewart, were expected to give evidence.




SEE ALSO:
Judge dismisses case against FT
20 Oct 04 |  Business


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