Former Independent boss Michael Bright started his defence in tears as he told of his personal losses when the insurance company he founded spectacularly collapsed.

Bright claimed he did not keep information from his reinsurers and did not know that some claims were being deliberately under-reserved to balance the books. He claimed, if he had, he would have reversed the decision and insisted he did not know about the claims needing to put on the system or of those “whiteboard” claims.

Bright continued to buy share options, which matured in 3-10 years, right up to February 2001. He told the court this was because he was confident that “the company would come through its problems”.

On Bright’s first day on the witness stand, last Thursday, much was made of how much of his personal fortune was tied up in the company.

Bright said he would not have expanded the company so fast had he known of the underwriting losses in Independent’s London market business at the time, but insisted he had not tried to cover up the extent of the problems once he was aware of them.

Michael Bright, Philip Condon and Dennis Lomas deny charges of conspiracy to defraud.

The case continues.