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Damages claim will be pursued

AWG has vowed to stand by its decision to sue Sir Fraser Morrison and Stephen McBrierty for £130 million after the pair rubbished the action.

In a statement, the firm said its 'robust claim will be pursued with vigour'.

AWG said Sir Fraser's and Mr McBrierty's claims that AWG mismanagement had caused the losses were incorrect.

A spokesman added: 'The acquisition was declared unconditional on September 21, 2000. Morrison's September 2000 management accounts, which covered the period to September 30, 2000, (only nine days after the acquisition) were prepared by Morrison's management without any input from AWG.

'They disclosed a reduction in the full-year profit forecast from £30.5 million to £21 million and a loss for the half-year of £11.1 million as opposed to a forecast profit of £9 million. These results triggered our investigation.'

The court case is likely to cost several million pounds when it begins next spring. AWG said it expected the whole case to be completed in summer 2004.