FORMER Dairygold chief executive Jerry Henchy has claimed he was effectively "branded a thief" by the co-operative society, the High Court heard today.
Mr Henchy (48), a father of three from Kilmallock, Co Limerick, is suing Dairygold Co-operative Society over the alleged termination in January 2009 of his €560,000 job, plus bonuses and allowances. He has not worked since.
In the letter read out in the court today, Mr Henchy, who had been a joint CEO of Dairygold and Reox Holdings, claimed his ability to represent the interests of Reox shareholders, most of whom were also shareholders of Dairygold, had been severely undermined by the co-op.
"Effectively I have been branded a 'thief' by Dairygold and at the same time I am asking the members of Dairygold and the Dairygold board members to put their trust in me to represent their best interests in my capacity as CEO and director of Reox and to sit along side these same people at the Reox AGM who removed me from my position as CEO."
In the letter to Reox Holdings on March 6, 2009, almost two months after his alleged dismissal, Mr Henchy sought assurances from Reox in relation to his position as CEO there and said he would be willing to play his part in the matter of pay cuts.
He said he wanted an assurance that for the years ahead the actions of Dairygold would not have any adverse affect on Reox's ability to pay his salary and benefits.
Ten days later, after a board meeting Reox chairman Flor Riordain told Mr Henchy he was being made redundant as Reox CEO.
Mr Henchy told the court he did not accept his position had been made redundant as alleged by Reox as part of a cost saving measure.
Mr Henchy is claiming €8m damages alleging his employment as CEO was wrongfully terminated for “spurious” reasons purporting to relate to
€159,000 being owed on his personal farm account with Dairygold. The real reason was an orchestrated campaign involving some board members, he alleges.
He is also claimed for defamation, libel and slander. He claims his professional and personal reputation was damaged by the alleged leaking to the media by someone within the society of the January 19, 2009, minutes of meetings of the Dairygold board and of its audit committee.
The claims are denied by Dairygold.
The case continues next week.