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Watson looks to appeal $1 million loss

By Deborah Hill Cone

Friday 13th June 2003

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Eric Watson's Cullen Investments has hired Queen's counsel Alan Galbraith to assess its next move after losing the $1 million Jowada case taken by Josephine Grierson.

Cullen Investments managing director Phil Newland would not comment on whether Cullen would appeal the judgment to the Privy Council.

But it is expected Cullen might take the position that the $886,000 claim by Ms Grierson's company, Jowada Holdings, should be cut to reflect the involvement of Ms Grierson's former business partner, David Hayde.

Mr Hayde, a former partner at KPMG, was a joint shareholder in Jowada when it was trying to do the deal to take over Bendon and joined Ms Grierson in trying to pull off the transaction.

The plan was for Jowada to make a name for itself as an investment business. But when Jowada was cut out of the action by Cullen, Mr Hayde cut his ties with Ms Grierson and went to the other side, doing some due diligence work for Pacific Retail Group, majority owned by Mr Watson.

Ms Grierson said she had fought the case singlehandedly and Mr Hayde had no claim to the judgment sum. "He hasn't paid half the legal costs and taken half the risk [of court action]."

Ms Grierson said she sent Mr Hayde drafts of her and Wayne Walden's affidavits to check for factual accuracy, while unbeknown to her Mr Hayde was writing an affidavit used by the other side.

Mr Hayde said Cullen had threatened to subpoena him so he had provided some material to both sides, but Cullen chose to use it. He said he did not regret backing away from court action as he did not think that was the best way to resolve the dispute.

Mr Hayde's affidavit gave the impression he had not expected to get paid the $866,000 fee. He had been satisfied that Mr Newland had told him he would raise with the board of PRG the possibility that Jowada would "get something for its efforts."

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