Allegations against Norfolk businessman dropped

Mary HamiltonA Norfolk businessman said a weight had been lifted off his shoulders after allegations that he had mismanaged a company when not legally permitted to do so were dropped.Mary Hamilton

A Norfolk businessman said a weight had been lifted off his shoulders after allegations that he had acted as the director of a company while disqualified from doing so were dropped.

Nick Gooch, managing director of AgChem Access and a portfolio of other businesses, said the end of the four-year case brought against him by the Official Receiver had been an 'amazing relief'.

He appeared in Norwich county court on Tuesday accused of acting as a director of Fenix, which ran the Rivergarden for seven months in 2005 and 2006, when he was disqualified from doing so, and of mismanaging the business in the process.

But when the first witness, Norwich Official Receiver Andrew Kelsall, was cross-examined, the case against Mr Gooch collapsed and the allegations were withdrawn.

Mr Gooch said: 'This has been a blight and a weight on my shoulders for the last four years. It is an amazing relief to have it lifted.

'I sincerely hope that no other director will be put through what my family and I have suffered over the last four years in circumstances where he has done nothing wrong.'

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He said that the case was based on two witness statements which should have been fully tested and not relied upon as the basis for this action.

'During the cross-examination of the first witness, the Official Receiver, the court was informed that a decision had been made to discontinue all proceedings against me,' added Mr Gooch.

'The judge found that the case brought against me was always bound to fail and that this would have been appreciated if the Official Receiver had reviewed the case properly.'

Mr Gooch said he was awarded �90,000 costs on an indemnity basis, meaning he will be able to recover all or almost all of his legal costs. The normal basis for court costs allows defendants to recover only some of the legal fees they have spent.

The Official Receiver was not available for comment.