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Former Indie boss breaks down in dock

Former boss of UK (re)insurer Independent Michael Bright has taken the witness stand to defend again...

Former boss of UK (re)insurer Independent Michael Bright has taken the witness stand to defend against charges of conspiracy to defraud, six years after the company collapsed. Mr Bright, the former company chairman and managing director of Independent, and co-defendants, former directors, Philip Condon and Dennis Lomas stand accused of withholding claims information from directors, auditors and actuaries during the lead-up to the company's demise.

The trial, which began on 30 May at Southwark Crown Court in London, follows an investigation into the company by the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

The SFO's examination of 18 witnesses, including former staff, drew to a close on 21 August. On the opening day of his defence, two days later, Mr Bright wept as he recounted the years leading up to the company's demise in June 2001.

Under questioning from defence counsel Ian Winter QC, Mr Bright admitted driving himself and senior management "mad" in the company's final years. Mr Bright said: "I brought together some of the most talented individuals into the company to rescue it and I drove them mad. I drove myself mad. I placed enormous pressure on a group of people whose only crime was to try and help sort the mess out."

Mr Bright pointed also pointed the finger of blame at Independent's former London market divisional chief Keith Rutter, whose actions Bright described as "fraudulent".

Evidence admitted to the trial at an earlier stage, pointed to the problems Independent had with its London market division which Mr Rutter was in charge of.

On subsequent days on the witness stand, Mr Bright accused other senior executives at the firm of keeping their actions secret, compounding the company's plight.

The trial continues.

To find out more about the trial, log on to: www.theindietrial.co.uk.

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