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UK tech star Mike Lynch claims HP targeted him because he is wealthy

Michael Bow

Former Autonomy chief Mike Lynch kicked off his defence against HP’s $5 billion legal case on Wednesday, claiming it was motivated by his “wealthy” status and “deep pockets”.

The British software entrepreneur, 53, is being sued by the US giant over claims he committed fraud by artificially inflating sales figures at Autonomy before selling it to HP for $11 billion in 2011. HP had to take an $8.8 billion writedown on the company one year after the deal.

Lynch’s defence QC Robert Miles started his opening arguments today, claiming the failed acquisition was HP’s fault and questioning the company’s motivation. “The claimants’ choice of target appears to be motivated by the fact that Dr Lynch is wealthy and has a deep pocket for the purposes of this claim... the claimants need a high-profile target to blame for the losses that they suffered,” it says.

“The entire premise of the claim is far-fetched. There was no motive for Dr Lynch to have masterminded the conspiracy that lies at the heart of HP’s claim. Dr Lynch was, at the time of the alleged misconduct, already wealthy and successful.”

Lynch’s defence claims that Autonomy was “a remarkable success story,” adding: “It is difficult to see why Dr Lynch would turn to fraud at that stage in his career.”

Lynch is pursuing a counter-claim against HP, saying the reputational damage caused cost him business deals worth $150 million.

Hewlett Packard Company split in two in 2015 to become HP Inc and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The case refers to the pre-separation company.

The trial continues and is expected to last nine months.

Separately, in the US Lynch faces criminal charges over the HP case which were levelled days before the UK case began. A Lynch spokesman called these “baseless, egregious” charges.