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Rok chief rues damage to reputation

Rok finance director Ashley Martin left the firm last week saying his eight-week suspension had ruined his reputation.

Mr Martin resigned last week immediately after being reinstated by Rok when its review found no evidence of malpractice.

He had been suspended in August after problem contracts were found in Rok’s plumbing, heating and electrical (PHE) business, and a lack of internal financial controls was blamed.

Mr Martin said last week: “I’m feeling better than I have for the last eight weeks. I spent 30 years building up my reputation and this knocked it for six.

“I’ve spent the last eight weeks fighting this and during this time my family and friends have been incredibly supportive.”

He said he expected to take a few months before making a decision about what to do next.

“I want to get into something exciting and challenging but I’ll take a couple of months and have a breather. Right now I need a rest and to take stock.”

When Martin’s suspension was announced, the firm said: “The board has decided that the company must have new financial leadership.”

But he later received an apology from his former employer. In a statement, the firm said: “The board wishes to emphasize that Ashley has never been accused of wrongdoing nor have our investigations revealed any evidence of any malpractice.

“The board finds it regrettable if there has been any damage to Ashley’s good reputation by any speculation outside of the company to the contrary.”

Rok’s review blamed a reduction in subcontracting work in the private housing sector for some of the problems in the PHE division.

Last week’s statement said: “As a result of these full investigations, the board has concluded that the problems in the ex Avonside PHE business were due to a scaling back of subcontracting work from the private housing sector and a combination of weak operational, commercial and financial controls within that part of the business.”

Rok chief executive Garvis Snook said: “The Avonside business was entirely focused on the private housing sector and that market has scaled back considerably. But at present, the group is trading in line with expectations.”

Mr Snook was unable to comment on the departure of Mr Martin after the parties signed a confidentiality agreement.

Rok issued a profit warning in April, when the PHE issues were first disclosed. At that point Rok blamed the PHE business for its financial problems, which were expected to result in profits at the lower end of analysts’ expectations.

The firm said it was also catching up on work delayed at the start of the year due to the severe cold weather. Rok’s shares, trading at 40p each before the warning, were down to 18p this week.