Saying the case had focused on "narrow and arcane allegations", he said he was determined to clear his name even if meant going to the European Court of Human Rights.

Walsall home emergency group Homeserve has said it is to buy fire and flood restoration company Chem- Dry UK for £18.9 million.

Chem-Dry has over 230 franchises covering the UK with some 640 licences and has commercial arrangements with seven leading household insurers, Homeserve said.

Chem- Dry has 210 employees and operates from a control centre in Beverley, East Yorkshire.

It made an operating profit of £2.6 million on turnover of £37.1 million in the year to April 2004, while its net assets are estimated at £4.8 million.

Richard Harpin, chief executive of Homeserve, said: "The acquisition of Chem-Dry is a significant enhancement of our disaster restoration activities. It will broaden the services provided by Homeserve to household insurers and places Homeserve in a unique position."