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​Roadchef Workers' Long-Awaited Victory: Compensation After 40 Years

​Roadchef Workers' Long-Awaited Victory: Compensation After 40 Years

Posted by Emily on 24th Dec 2023

After a 40-year saga, one of Britain's most prolonged corporate scandals is nearing its resolution. Approximately 2,000 Roadchef employees and their kin are set to receive up to £13,000 each as compensation.

Rubbish at Roadchef - - 2179709 Rubbish at Roadchef by Des Blenkinsopp, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This complex case started nearly four decades ago when low-paid Roadchef workers were allegedly deprived of their rights in an employee share scheme to share the company's success with its staff. The prolonged legal battle, unfortunately, outlived many involved, including Tim Warwick, the whistleblower and former company secretary.

The roots of the scandal trace back to 1986. Patrick Gee, Roadchef's then-majority shareholder, dreamt of the UK's first employee-share ownership plan. His untimely death led Tim Ingram Hill to take charge, eventually allocating 35% of the company's equity to staff by 1991. However, in a controversial move in 1995, Ingram Hill transferred over 20 million shares from this scheme to a second plan for senior managers, ultimately profiting £30 million when Roadchef was sold in 1998.

The legal proceedings started in earnest in 2010 and culminated in a 2014 High Court ruling against Ingram Hill for breaching his fiduciary duty. Although not deemed illegal, his actions led to a confidential settlement.

Most recently, a significant tax dispute between the trustees and HMRC has been resolved, allowing funds to be distributed in January. Christopher Smith, chairman of Roadchef Employee Benefit Trustees, described this development as 'bittersweet', lamenting the delay and the loss of key figures like Tony Brereton and Tim Warwick.

Neil Gray, MSP, a prominent advocate for the trust members, expressed pride and gratitude towards those who fought tirelessly for this outcome. Roadchef, currently under Macquarie ownership, affirmed its non-involvement in the disputes, while Ingram Hill remained unavailable for comment.

This long-awaited conclusion marks a significant milestone for those affected, finally receiving their due after decades of legal tussles.

Image Source:  Welcome to Taunton Deane - Roadchef by Jaggery, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons