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Ocado receives settlement from co-founder over espionage claim

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Ocado said it has settled a legal spat with its co-founder and a former employee after they secured confidential documents from the online retail firm while they set up a competitor.

It said Jonathan Faiman and Jon Hillary have “made a significant payment” to the Ocado Group as part of the settlement.

Mr Faiman set up the business with Tim Steiner and Jason Gissing in 2000 but left in 2008.

He set up rival Today Development Partners alongside Mr Hillary, who had been one of Ocado’s longest-serving employees.

Behind the scenes, Ocado bosses are understood to be furious at Mr Faiman’s actions.

A source close to the company described Mr Faiman as a “total chancer” and said the business is “markedly different” from when he was last involved.

The FTSE 100 group accused him and Mr Hillary of “corporate espionage” and conspiracy in 2019.

It has now published an agreed statement of facts following the settlement, which said that Mr Hillary handed “a significant number of confidential documents belonging to Ocado” to Mr Faiman while still working at Ocado.

The documents related to the operation of Ocado’s warehouses and details regarding its joint venture with Marks & Spencer, which replaced its retailer partnership with Waitrose last September.

It said that, at the time Ocado’s search order was served, Mr Faiman was “on his way to a meeting with Waitrose with a significant number of these confidential documents in hard copy”.

A spokesman for Ocado said: “Ocado has never been stronger.

“Our people have built a great business.

“It is our duty to protect our people and their work from any unlawful and illegitimate use by third parties for their own ends.”

The group said the settlement does not affect its legal proceedings against Raymond McKeeve, a former partner of the global law firm Jones Day, for contempt of court regarding his involvement in the incident.

In February, the Court of Appeal ruled that Mr McKeeve should face a hearing for contempt after it heard he called for Mr Faiman to “burn” messages after the search order was served.

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