SKY News

By Mark Kleinman, City Editor

A prominent barrister who fought against a challenge to Liverpool FC’s last change of ownership is to represent Tesco shareholders in a legal battle over the retailer’s profit overstatement scandal.

Sky News understands that Tesco Shareholder Claims, a group formed in March to act for investors in the supermarket giant, will announce on Thursday that Philip Marshall QC is acting for it in its case.

The action group said in March that it was co-ordinating a group of Tesco investors who were exploring legal action following the slump in its share price last autumn.

A similar case is also being prepared by Stewarts Law, which specialises in shareholder claims.

Sources said that a number of institutional investors had agreed to sign up to the case being represented by Mr Marshall, although they refused to name them.

Mr Marshall, of Serle Court Chambers, is a prominent QC, acting for directors of Liverpool when it was sold to Fenway Sports Group in 2010.

Tesco, which was unavailable to comment on the latest development in the Tesco Shareholder Claims case, has vowed to defend itself against legal action after it emerged that it had overstated profit by £263m – a figure subsequently revised to more than £320m.

The company recently revealed a massive full-year loss and is starting a lengthy attempt to rebuild its business under Dave Lewis, the new chief executive.

The company’s profit over-statement occurred because of inaccurate booking of revenue from suppliers, into which the Serious Fraud Office has launched a formal criminal investigation.

The Groceries Code Adjudicator and the Financial Reporting Council are undertaking separate inquiries, while the Financial Conduct Authority ceased its own probe when the SFO became involved.

Mr Lewis has outlined proposals to relocate Tesco’s head office, close dozens of stores and terminate its defined benefit pension scheme in an effort to save costs.

He also plans to sell a stake in Dunnhumby, its customer loyalty arm, and has announced a long-term price-cutting initiative across hundreds of core grocery items.