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Ex-New Star Manager Sues Over Bullying, Being Called Moron

New Star Asset Management Founder John Duffield
New Star Asset Management Holdings Inc. founder John Duffield. Photographer: Graham Barclay/Bloomberg

Patrick Evershed, a former New Star Asset Management Holdings Inc. fund manager, was bullied by company founder John Duffield and called a “criminal” and a “moron,” Evershed’s lawyer said.

Evershed is suing New Star for unfair dismissal at a London employment tribunal. His lawyer, Daphne Romney, said at the first day of the trial today that he was subjected to “a very unpleasant environment.”

Duffield “called the fund managers morons and criminals,” including Evershed, Romney said. He “asked if they were ashamed of themselves when their funds performed poorly” and was “angry, antagonistic and unpleasant.”

Evershed was suspended by the fund’s chief executive officer, Howard Covington, in 2008, shortly after writing a letter to New Star’s human resources department complaining about Duffield’s conduct. In the letter, Evershed said Duffield “has been most vile to most of the fund managers for several years and bullying us.”

Evershed later resigned and sued the fund in October 2008. Evershed said he joined New Star in 2002, after being recruited by Duffield, under the agreement that his New Star Select Opportunities Fund wouldn’t exceed investments of 50 million pounds ($80 million). He said the limit was critical to its success, according to an appeals court judgment from last year that permitted him to pursue the claims.

Fund Size

The pressure to increase the size of his fund, which Evershed said he wished to keep small so he could manage it properly, and “a pattern of behavior” by Duffield, such as turning his back and walking away when Evershed tried to speak to him, created “an atmosphere of intimidation and humiliation,” Romney said.

Most U.K. unfair dismissal claims are capped at about 65,000 pounds ($104,000). Evershed is also pursuing whistleblowing claims that may have a higher value. The trial is scheduled to last 10 days. A request for comment to New Star’s law firm, Olswang LLP, wasn’t immediately returned.

Evershed now works in the fund-management department at Hargreave Hale Ltd. in London, where he advises private clients. Duffield is a senior partner at Brompton Asset Management, according to its website.

At the time he left his job at Rathbone Brothers Plc in 2002 before going to New Star, Evershed’s U.K. stock fund was the third-best performer among the 308 funds tracked by Standard & Poor’s U.K. All-Companies category. His Rathbone Special Situations Fund gained 8 percent in 2001, compared with the FTSE All Share Index’s 19 percent decline.

New Star was bought by London Stock Exchange-listed Henderson Group Plc in 2009 for about 107 million pounds in cash and stock after the contraction in the credit markets, hobbled by a loan it took out to fund a shareholder payout.

Patrick Evershed v. New Star Asset Management, case no. 2203495/2008, Central London Employment Tribunal.

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