The founder and former Managing Director of the beef processing group Master Meat Packers has begun a £13m High Court action against beef baron Larry Goodman. Pascal Phelan claims that Larry Goodman conspired to force him out of the beef processing industry by secretly controlling a 50% stake in his company. Counter claims have been filed by Mr Goodman and the trial of the action could last for up to one year.

Paschal Phelan, a key player in the Irish beef industry, was headhunted by Larry Goodman in the late 1970s. But the relationship ended in 1983. Pascal Phelan claims that he left because he could not live with or condone illegal and fraudulent practices which he says were being engaged in at that time in the Goodman factory in Cahir, County Tipperary. Mr Phelan left the company and soon established his own business. Master Meat Packers grew into ten individual companies. James Scalafia, SC to Mr Phelan said that the company, which had an image as a friend of the farmer, grew into a serious competitor to Mr Goodman.

Middle Eastern Businessman Zacharia Tacher, now the second defendant in this action, came on board as a business partner in the mid-'80s. In the High Court Mr Scalafia said that the trust of that relationship was abused in a most profound and heinous manner. He said that Mr Tacher betrayed his partner by secretly selling him out to his main competitor, Larry Goodman. He described it as a betrayal carried out in the lowest and most loathsome manner.

For the purpose of these proceedings Mr Goodman accepts that he owns and controls Master Meats since 1987. But there is little that finds agreement between the lawyers for the beef barons lining up in this multi million pounds case. There are four separate actions involving claim and counter claim. Seven senior counsel, their juniors and instructing solicitors are settling in for a case that they are already predicting could last up to one year.

The start of the long awaited High Court action between former beef baron Pascal Phelan and Larry Goodman was delayed this morning. The delay came about because of a separate court action being taken by lawyers for Mr Goodman.