AN epic legal battle to sue the directors of a Stourbridge sportswear company has been unsuccessful thanks to a tenacious town solicitor.

Derek Simmonds of Talbots Solicitors took up the fight for the directors of Arc Sports three years ago in what seemed like a hopeless case.

Arc Sports, once one of Stourbridge's leading employers, manufactured premiership football kits for major supermarkets until Leeds based Elite Forwarders Ltd forced them to wind up in 2003.

Since then Elite have pursued legal proceedings against the three directors of Arc Sports, Pip Hanson, Ian Merritt and Stuart Stephens.

Derek Simmonds, partner at Talbots - based in Market Street and Hagley Road, said: "Things started to go wrong for Arc when competition from cheaper companies in China forced the business to move its production to Madagascar in 2002."

Soon after the re-location civil unrest threw the business into turmoil and several national contracts were lost.

Following a failed take over bid for Arc, Elite then seized football kits worth £300,000 that were being held in port waiting to be distributed to football clubs at the start of the season.

Mr Simmonds added: "The situation the three directors found themselves in was unbelievable. Their company had been left with crippling debts and Elite were suing them personally for substantial sums. To rub salt into the wound Elite's associate production company owed Arc in excess of £130,000."

Barrister John Stenhouse represented Arc in court in a case that had all the hallmarks of a Hollywood film.

Documents had to be couriered in from Guernsey overnight and witnesses were called in from as far a field as Prague.

Hearings took place in different parts of the country and on the final day of the trial the defence team were left snowbound in Chester to celebrate overnight.

Pip Hanson, one of the three directors, said: "We are delighted with the outcome and feel a huge burden has been lifted.

"We are very grateful for the hard work Derek and John put in to win our case and end the nightmare situation that we've been in for the last few years."

Elite has now been left facing hundreds of thousands of pounds in costs.

And the directors of Arc, which was started by the Merritt family in 1973 and employed 450 staff in its heyday, are considering bringing their own legal action against Elite.

No-one from Elite was available for comment.