ACCA verdict nears

ACCA council member Robert Jackson is among four Norwich Union carpetbaggers expected to discover their fate tomorrow when an association disciplinary committee delivers its verdict on charges related to the backdating of insurance policy applications.

Three other partners at the Manchester-based firm Thomson Morely Jackson & Co, where Jackson is managing partner, also face professional misconduct charges.

The charges arise from the alleged backdating of 67 application forms for Norwich Union insurance policies, completed in the hope of obtaining free shares in the firm. Of the applications, 32 are alleged to relate to partners and staff in the firm, or their families.

The backdating is said to have taken place over a three-day period in early October 1996, when Norwich Union announced plans to float.

The case overran its three-day hearing last week, and the final deliberations of the six-strong disciplinary committee were delayed until tomorrow. The committee, which has the power to reprimand or even expel a member from the association, hopes to deliver its verdict at 2pm.

Jackson – who became a council member in 1995 – and the other partners, Andrew Brown, Ernest Thomson and David Wainwright, put up a vigorous defence led by barrister Monica Carss-Frisk QC.

They did not dispute the fact that they had submitted applications in the hope of benefiting from the flotation, but argued the applications had been made in line with guidance given by Norwich Union.

Carss-Frisk also referred to the size and ‘aggressive’ character of ACCA’s investigation into the firm, suggesting they had for some reason been ‘singled out’ by the association.

Deliberations also involved a lengthy debate over whether the burden of proof required in the case should be in line with civil or criminal courts.

The case is believed to be only the second time in ACCA’s history that it has taken disciplinary action against a member of its ruling council.

The committee heard that Norwich Union declined to co-operate with ACCA’s investigation, and destroyed original documentation relating to the applications in question.

Related reading