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Ford files response to Leach lawsuit

According to a file deposited in a US District Court by Ford Motor Co. yesterday, former Ford of Europe president Martin Leach, who has sued the company over a non-compete arrangement that cost him a job heading Fiat Auto, was secretly negotiating for a job at Fiat two months before he left Ford.

"(Leach) was intimately involved in the development and implementation of Ford's European marketing and product campaign that specifically targeted Fiat — creating a clear conflict of interest”, according to Ford's submission. Ford also included in its filing a document listing complaints Leach made against Ford, indicating he had "lost faith in senior management," but wanted to leave the company on a positive public note and would agree "not to throw (Ford) to the wolves".

Unable to contact Leach for comment, US media were referred by his Detroit law firm to his spokesman in England, David Rigg, who commented, "The general principle in play is that once you get to a senior level at Ford the implication is you can't work anywhere else".

Ford has also filed a legal claim against Leach under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, and disclosed that Fiat offered him a €1 million euro 'golden handshake' and a salary of €1.8 million. He was also guaranteed a €600,000 bonus, and could earn up to €3 million in stock options.

Ford further noted that Leach has been paid $113,000 for writing a paper for A.T. Kearney and agreeing to let the consultancy use his name; it pays him a daily rate of $3,500.

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