John Caudwell’s long legal battle with a former business partner has been ‘the worst three years’ of his life. The billionaire must now pay damages but tells Oliver Thring he is the real victor.
On the day in 2006 that John Caudwell sold his business and became a cash billionaire, he gave five banks £300m each to invest. One of these was the venerable Coutts, which counts the Queen as a client; and there Caudwell soon met his “relationship manager”, a charismatic wine heiress named Nathalie Dauriac.
The friendship that bloomed between them — before it rotted so spectacularly — seemed unlikely. Caudwell’s father had died young: he was raised in a terraced house in Stoke-on-Trent with a “metal bath on the wall”.
He quit school before his A-levels to complete an engineering apprenticeship and in 1986 bought a job lot of Motorola phones and spent months flogging them to plumbers and cab drivers across the Midlands. That led to a telecoms empire, including the now defunct Phones4U, that eventually employed 10,000 people and sold 26 phones a minute.
The Times subsribers can read the rest of the interview with John Caudwell online.