Wales

Roadchef whistleblower's 17-year share battle

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Media captionWhistleblower Tim Warwick said he knew he was right all along

A whistleblower at the centre of a 17-year legal battle to get Roadchef workers a share of the firm's sale says he has no regrets.

Tim Warwick, from Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, was company secretary when he first raised concerns about the way the staff's share was handled.

He was fired and had to settle for work on a third of his old salary.

Now hundreds of former and current staff at the motorway services chain will receive five figure payouts.

Mr Warwick, now 64, has spoken out for the first time following an out-of-court settlement for employees in February.

The story begins with the old managing director Patrick Gee allocating 20% of the firm's shares to staff. But he died before the John Lewis-style scheme could be completed.

His successor Timothy Ingram Hill was accused of improperly acquiring those shares, which made him £27m when Roadchef was sold in 1998.

Mr Ingram Hill, through a trust, bought a large number of shares from the employee scheme.

Around 600 workers missed out on a payout when the businesses was sold.

Image caption Tim Warwick has spoken out for the first time following an out-of-court settlement for employees

Mr Ingram Hill had also been a director of the staff's share scheme.

The High Court ruled Mr Ingram Hill breached his legal duty to act in the interests of the staff involved.

There is no suggestion that he acted illegally though.

Mr Warwick, was company secretary at Roadchef between 1994 and 1999.

He said he had his concerns by early 1995 and tried to raise them.

"I was ignored totally," he said.

"From being within the inner wheel I was moved more to the side and that's how it went for the next couple up years."

He said he decided to become a whistleblower because his integrity was in jeopardy and he felt a sense of injustice for the workers missing out on tens of thousands of pounds each.

'Career ended'

"After the sale of the company I stayed on for about six months but was fired in January 1999 and I knew then my career as a company secretary had ended.

"We'd decided to take up this action and it was very difficult to apply for jobs when you're suing your chairman for £80m," he said.

"I did other things - managed pubs and hotels but the salary was less than a third of what I was earning at Roadchef. I didn't know then it would take 20 years to come to fruition."

In the last few weeks, an out of court settlement was agreed between those involved.

The current owners and management of Roadchef are not involved in this dispute.

The workers' case was fought by a Cardiff law firm Capital Law.

Mr Warwick said he would do the same again and at least employees would get their share.

"I decided to make a stand and I never regretted it," he said.

Mr Ingram Hill said: "I am pleased there has been an amicable settlement agreed between all the parties and I wish the employees of Roadchef the very best."

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