BGC rapped by judge for destroying evidence in Tullett staff poaching case

BGC rapped by judge for destroying evidence in Tullett staff poaching case

Interdealer broker Tullett Prebon has claimed victory in a bitterly-fought legal dispute with rival broker BGC that involved missing Blackberries and wiped computer records.

Tullett took legal action in April last year after accusing BGC and former Tullett executive Anthony Verrier of conducting an illegal conspiracy to poach as many as 90 staff in an attempt to cripple its business.

Tullett eventually saw ten staff defect to BGC, but has gained a moral victory in the High Court after Mr Justice Jack found in Tullett's favour and granted permission for the pursuit of damages claims against BGC and Verrier.

During the case, Verrier and some defecting Tullett staff reported that they had lost or replaced their mobile phones, which could have contained incriminating evidence relating to their contacts and movements.

In summing up, the judge said: "I am satisfied that it was Mr Verrier's gambit to 'lose' blackberries whenever he thought they might contain inconvenient material, and that his instructions were the cause of at least some of the mobiles being lost. I am satisfied that the inaccessibility of the contents of his last blackberry due to a missing password was a deliberate ploy."

The judge also sanctioned BGC for an apparent attempt to destroy and delete evidence held on its computer systems.

In December, BGC disclosed a copy of a report headed 'Project Toscana'. The single copy had been found filed in BGC's legal department - R 6954. No other copies were located.

"It would have been typed by Ms Howell (Verrier's secretary) from Mr Verrier's manuscript. There was no copy to be found kept by her as a hard copy or saved electronically on BGC's computer system," noted the judge. "I do not find it credible that she would have typed up the report and handed it to Mr Verrier without saving it on the computer system. I conclude that the other copies and copies of any further reports as foreseen by the e-mail were destroyed. They were also deleted from BGC's computer system."

Speaking after the case concluded, Tullett chief Terry Smith commented: "In order to operate successfully businesses need to be able to rely upon a framework of law in which contracts are respected and when it is necessary to resort to proceedings, witnesses are truthful and evidence is preserved and disclosed rather than concealed or destroyed. It is clear that BGC, Mr Verrier and Mr Lynn had other designs."

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