A HIGH court judge has ruled two directors of a £3million-rated Blackburn firm acted unfairly when they ousted a third partner.

Philip Brown was a minority shareholder in Audas Group Ltd (AGL), a specialist in fitting out and refurbishing commercial premises, based on Greenbank Business Park.

The trained quantity surveyor launched AGL in 2007 with project manager Stephen Bray and commercial manager, after they had worked together at the construction company Morris and Spottiswood.

But the Business and Property Court, sitting in Manchester, heard the relationship between the parties began to deteriorate in late 2015.

Mr Brown began to work closely with Business Boost Lancashire and a mentoring scheme known as Vistage, while Mr Bray was considering retiring to Australia, the court heard.

The discontent came to a head in a meeting, that November, when Mr Brown was told his "head was not in the business".

Further discussions were undertaken, with Mr Brown offering to sell his shares for anything between £1.16m and £1.6m, the court was told.

While the buyout offer was eventually withdrawn, the firm continued trading through 2016, with Mr Brown making an unsuccessful offer of £1.35m in September.

Another meeting took place in July 2017, with no agreement again reached, amid threats by Mr Bray and Mr Sharp that the business could be wound up, the court heard.

In November that year, Mr Brown was summoned to a 'disciplinary meeting' at Stanley House, in Mellor, to consider "trust and confidence" issues raised by fellow directors.

He was dismissed, later lodging an unsuccessful appeal, and eventually found his access to company bank accounts blocked.

Mr Brown lodged a case for relief, to secure payment for his shareholdings, and Mr Bray and Mr Sharp issued a counter-claim.

Ruling in Mr Brown's favour, Judge Mark Halliwell said: "Their decision was made out of a sense of antipathy towards Mr Brown and with a view to advancing their own sectional interests rather than advancing the interests of (Audas)."