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Tesco appoints former Diageo lawyer to head up legal team

Published:  29 May, 2015

Tesco has appointed Diageo's former lawyer David Berry as its first UK legal director, according to legal publication, The Lawyer.

Tesco has appointed Diageo's former lawyer David Berry as its first UK legal director, according to legal publication The Lawyer.

The retailer is understood to have appointed Berry to lead the legal team in the UK and Ireland from 1 September.

Berry has worked as Diageo's M&A general counsel for the last two year, having joined the drinks giant in 2001, advising on global antitrust, sales and corporate relations. He was previously an antitrust associate at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and is understood to have previously worked with Tesco on a secondment.

Tesco has made a series of senior appointment and staffing changes in a bid to  turn around the business in the wake of the profit overstatement scandal, including the appointment of John Allan as chairman, new corporate affairs guru Rebecca Shelley and Michelle McEttrick as group brand director. Chief executive Dave Lewis, who took the helm in September, has also announced up to 10,000 job losses, the closure of 43 stores and the shelving of plans for future store developments.The BWS team has also been restructured.

Tesco is currently facing a potential multi-billion class action lawsuit in the UK by a not-for profit organisation representing Tesco shareholders in relation to the profit overstatement that it announced last year. The organisation, Tesco Shareholder Claims Ltd, was set up by US legal firm Scott + Scott LLP. Yesterday it announced it was intends to instruct law firm McGuireWoods LLP to conduct the case in the UK.

It said that while it was difficult to predict the ultimate size of the Group, "it is already clear that the case against Tesco is strong, and will involve a substantial claim".

John Bradley, chairman of the TSC, said: "With the benefit of the advice received from Philip Marshall QC we believe we have a strong case and we wish to pursue it vigorously."

"TSC intends to demonstrate that Tesco's repeated overstatements of profit caused substantial losses among its members," the statement added.  

Last September, Tesco revealed its profits for the half year has been overstated by £263m, which is now the subject of a criminal investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.