The grief goes on at British Biotech plc, which this week issued a writ for breach of contract against Andrew Millar, its former director of clinical research, who was dismissed by the company for allegedly discussing confidential company information with third parties.

The writ was a riposte to a letter from Millar's solicitors indicating he will issue a claim for wrongful dismissal if he is not compensated for his loss of employment.

Meanwhile, the share price continued to drift downward, closing last Friday at £0.385, a fall of 24.5 percent on the week. British Biotech - for a long while the largest U.K.-quoted biotechnology company by market capitalization - is now fifth largest after Chiroscience, Powderject Pharmaceuticals, Scotia and Celltech.

Katie Arber, head of corporate communications at British Biotech, told BioWorld International the company issued the writ “to protect the interests of shareholders. We primarily want to ensure that he [Millar] upholds the confidentiality which is part of his contract of employment.“

The share price rose by £0.015 in early trading on Monday, when the news was announced, to £0.40.

Just over a year ago the stock price of British Biotech, based in Oxford, was £2.90. By April 20 this year, when Millar's dismissal was announced, the shares stood at £0.565. They recovered slightly to £0.64 on May 18, when the company issued a point-by-point rebuttal of allegations of mismanagement made by Millar and announced that its CEO, Keith McCullagh, was to step down at the AGM in September 1998.

The company hoped the statement to shareholders on May 18 would end the Millar affair, but the initiation of legal proceedings indicates the row will continue.

The allegations made by Millar include claims that the shareholders were misled about the company's prospects, that directors sold shares when they should not have, and that the product pipeline has little chance of success. *