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Ex-Prestbury chief Birkett plans legal action against Personal Touch

Former Prestbury chief executive Lee Birkett is planning to take legal action over aspects of the deal which saw Prestbury advisers transfer to Personal Touch last September.

Neither Birkett nor Personal Touch would give details of which aspect of the deal the potential legal action relates to, but Birkett says: “For reasons that I am not presently in a position to divulge, that deal did not proceed as anticipated.”

Money Marketing understands that Birkett had originally planned to continue working with the Prestbury appointed representatives after they transferred to PTFS via a support centre, however this did not happen.

As MM reported in April, Birkett has now set up a debt management firm Independent Debtline along with other ex-Prestbury staff, although it had yet to launch officially.

In the run-up to Prestbury’s liquidation and the transfer of advisers to PTFS, Lee Birkett was embroiled in a battle with rebel shareholders and Prestbury chairman Tory MP Francis Maude over the composition of the mortgage network’s board among other issues, which included Lee Birkett’s mother Prestbury finance director Lynne Birkett.

The Birketts defeated the rebel shareholders and remained at the network, but it went into liquidation in January 2009 after advisers transferred to Personal Touch.

In a statement released today, Birkett says: “I have taken extensive legal advice with my legal team during the last twelve months. This advice has led to proposed legal action being today set out in further detail to Personal Touch Financial Services.”

Birkett also defends his professional record in today’s statement. He says: “Whilst I am not in a position to provide further details at this stage, I wish to inform all my business contacts, either existing or future, that there has been no claim made against me by Personal Touch Financial Services Limited.

“Similarly, I would wish to emphasise that there has been no allegation, or
suggestion that an allegation may be forthcoming, from the FSA in relation
to my conduct.

“As far as I am aware, the FSA is, and will remain, entirely satisfied with the manner in which I have conducted myself throughout this unfortunate sequence of events.”

Birkett says in the statement that he plans to recommence trading in the next few weeks.

Personal Touch group sales director Dev Malle was not aware of legal action having been launched.

He says: “If Mr Birkett is pursuing legal action then I do not think it would be appropriate to comment further.”

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