STORMY scenes erupted at troubled drug development firm British Biotech's annual meeting.

A series of investors called on the Cowley-based firm to drop its legal action against former research chief Andrew Millar.

Chairman John Raisman said the company had no choice but to pursue Dr Millar for alleged breach of confidentiality.

Other investors at the meeting, which lasted nearly two hours, asked about Dr Millar's claims that British Biotech's strategy was "over optimistic."

But the company said hopes were high for a bright future after a series of senior management changes.

Keith McCullagh, a founder of the Cowley-based firm, stepped down as chief executive at yesterday's meeting to be replaced by Elliot Goldstein.

John Raisman stepped down as chairman and next week will be replaced by Chris Hampson, when commercial director Pam Kirby will also leave.

Earlier this year more than 40 people were made redundant in the wake of a row surrounding the company, including allegations that it had been over-optimistic about the progress of some of its trial drugs and had misled investors about clinical trials.

Allegations of over-optimistic announcements - some of which centred on Zacutex, a drug aimed at treating acute pancreatitis - were levelled against the company by Dr Millar, who was sacked in April.

Mr Raisman said the board strongly believed "no impropriety or improper conduct of any description" had occurred.

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