Attorneys for the investment group Porton and its CEO Harvey Boulter have described a complaint filed by 3M accusing the private equity firm of blackmail as a "false and reckless...publicity stunt disguised as a lawsuit." And the lawyers said they expect the suit will be dismissed and was brought merely "to divert attention from an ongoing trial in London High Court, where 3M is accused of breach of contract" related to BacLite, a MRSA detection device invented by the British Ministry of Defense and acquired by 3M in 2007.
3M recently filed its case in the New York Supreme Court, accusing Boulter of attempting to extort $30 million from the manufacturer to settle a lawsuit in the U.K. In its complaint, 3M also maintains Boulter sent emails threatening the company's business in the U.K., as well as 3M CEO George Buckley's investiture as a Knight Bachelor. Buckley was named a knight by the Queen of England earlier this month, and he is slated to participate in an investiture ceremony later this summer.
According to Boulter, 3M's accusations of blackmail reference settlement discussions started by the company's lawyer William Brewer, which occurred "under mutually and explicitly agreed rules of confidentiality." He adds that Brewer "violated the rules of confidentiality regarding settlement negotiations by mischaracterizing statements made during a negotiation, and using them as a basis for a lawsuit accusing me of blackmailing 3M."
As to whether he's interfering with Buckley's knighthood, Boulter says no and calls the charge absurd. "[T]he only other person to have lost a knighthood was Robert Mugabe, the dictator in charge of Zimbabwe, so I doubt Mr. Buckley has too much to worry about at this stage," Boulter noted.
Porton attorney Robert Hopper announced the firm would be petitioning the UK National Health Service, Medicines Health Regulatory Agency and the EU Medicines Agency to urge the FDA to investigate 3M and cooperate with the NHS and EMEA in their probes. He emphasized Porton's "genuine belief that the failure to have BacLite approved by the U.S. FDA has created a great matter of public health, as BacLite could have been in use for the past several years, as it originally was in the U.K. and EU for rapid, accurate and economic detection of MRSA at a 95.5% reliability rate."
- see the Porton release