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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 May, 2003, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Accident Group boss 'gobsmacked'
Accident Group employees outside the firm's HQ
Workers outside the Accident Group's HQ on Friday
The boss of the firm which sacked 2,400 workers by text message said he was devastated at the collapse of his company.

Company chairman Mark Langford also blamed administrators for the decision to tell employees they had lost the jobs by sending them text messages.

He said he was "gobsmacked" at the way workers found out.

The Accident Group, the UK's biggest injury-claims specialists with centres in Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool, was put into administration on Friday.

Meanwhile, it was reported disgruntled workers looted offices of computer equipment before leaving their workplace following news of the redundancies.

Police confirmed they had been in attendence at the firm's offices, but there was no reports of violence, criminal damage or theft.
The buck stops with me
Accident Group chairman Mark Langford

Mr Langford said the decision to tell workers they were redundant by sending out text messages had been taken by administrators PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

But he added: "The buck stops with me."

Speaking from his 3m mansion in North Rode, Cheshire, he said: "I'm absolutely devastated - particularly for the staff," he said.

"I don't like what has happened. If it had been in my control I would not have done it that way.

"But it wasn't in my control. It was out of my control from Thursday night. I would not have done it that way."

Insurance battle

Mr Langford, who said he had not slept for the past three days, added: "At the end of the day, the buck stops with me. I'm still the chairman. I'm the owner of the company."

On Friday, staff with company mobile phones received a series of text messages, warning them that salaries would not be paid.

The Accident Group's Manchester-based parent company Amulet said its subsidiary had to cease trading because it could not sustain its "continual battles with the insurance industry" and after "the sudden failure of a banking partner to support the company".

The administrators, though, blame Accident Group's "lower than expected claims success rate" for the financial difficulties, which they say "resulted in increased insurance premiums on new business and retrospective claims from the underwriters".

Existing claims

About 200 Amulet staff are being kept on to process existing claims.

The news will be a blow to the government, which abolished legal aid for personal injury claims and replaced it with laws that allow solicitors to operate on a "no win, no fee" basis.

Accident Group is the second large personal injury claims firm to fail, following the collapse of Claims Direct - although the latter is now trading again under new owners.

Amulet's three other subsidiaries, Accident Investigations, Claims Support Services, and financial adviser First Advice - which sponsors Manchester City football club - are now in administration as well.




SEE ALSO:
Bust company sacks workers by text
30 May 03  |  Business


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