Former RSA chief executive makes Philip Smith cricket comeback
Smith is now general manager of Leinster Cricket after settling a dispute with RSA
Philip Smith, former chief executive of RSA insurance, attending an Employment Appeals Tribunal in 2015. Photograph: Dave Meehan
Philip Smith, the former chief executive of RSA Insurance Ireland who had to rely on the kindness of family and friends after he left the company in controversial circumstances in late 2013, is back as general manager of the Leinster Cricket Union.
It first came to Cantillon’s attention when it emerged in recent days that Smith had signed up Irish housebuilder Cairn Homes as sponsors for Cricket Leinster’s flagship provincial team – Leinster Lightning – under a two-year deal.
But it appears Smith has been in situ for a few months, where his role will, according to the cricket union, draw on his “broad-based leadership skill-set” and business and marketing experience to lead the transition to a new governance structure, the appointment of a new board and preparation of a revised strategy and development plan between 2017 and 2020.
Smith settled a legal dispute with RSA in January 2016, after the insurer appealed an earlier Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) ruling that he be awarded €1.25 million.
Live TV suspension
The tribunal chairman, Niamh O’Carroll-Kelly, said in June 2015 that RSA’s move to suspend Smith on national television in 2013, as it probed accounting irregularities at the Irish unit, “was the equivalent of taking a sledgehammer to his reputation”.
Smith, who earned €34,000 a month when he was at the helm of RSA, tendered his resignation on November 27th, 2013, on the basis that his fate was “pre-decided”.
He told the EAT 16 months later that he had earned just €24,000 in the interim and was relying on the support of family and friends.
Smith told the tribunal at the time that the setting of reserves against insurance claims – the heart of the issue that contributed to UK-based RSA having to inject €423 million of cash into the Irish unit between 2013 and 2015 – was not his area of responsibility or expertise.
However, O’Carroll-Kelly said the tribunal was “satisfied” that Smith was aware of the reserving practices of the business.
At Cricket Leinster, Smith has signed deals with broker Kidd Insurance in May to sponsor the women’s leagues for this year, Blue Insurance to support its primary schools competition, and LHK Insurance Brokers to sponsor a senior cup competition for this season.
Howzat for a comeback.