Steven Horkulak, a real-life dealer, was suing former employer Cantor Fitzgerald for constructive dismissal. The case was a re-run of last year’s blockbuster hearing in which Cantor battled it out with rival ICAP over allegations of staff poaching. These cases rely on embarrassing the hell out of the opposition to see who blinks first. Horkulak, a self-confessed former cocaine user, really went to town, portraying his former boss, Lee Amaitis, as a lecherous bully.
Some in the City would consider that a flattering testimonial.
Even as Horkulak slugged it out, a less well-publicised clash was underway at the High Court. Sir David Alliance, former chairman of textile group Coats Viyella was suing his former best friend, Roohi Kermanshahchi, for alleged non-payment of a £1.6m loan.
Again, the case relied on ‘scorched earth’ tactics, with each side doing its best to rubbish the other. Horkulak’s aim was to embarrass Cantor into settling before any more dirt was dished. The Alliance case was more sinister – two men in their seventies battling it out in a blood feud.
It did not make a pleasant spectacle.
Both cases reminded me of Lord Spens, the former Ansbacher banker who became embroiled in the Guinness Affair. He spent the best part of a decade seeking to discredit the Guinness investigation, filling an entire library at his home with books and files. It did him little good: he died in 2001 aged just 58, taking his obsession with him to his grave.
As with all such cases, the only winners are the lawyers.
- Jon Ashworth is business features editor at The Times.
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