Michael Bright and two other top executives of Independent Insurance pleaded not guilty this week to the charge of conspiracy to defraud in relation to the insurer's collapse in June 2001.

Bright, the former company chairman and managing director, Philip Condon, former deputy managing director and group director, and Dennis Lomas, former group finance director, were formally arraigned for trial in a preparatory hearing at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday in front of Justice Jack.

Since their first appearance at the court in March, the prosecution has completed primary disclosure and the defence has submitted its statements.

A trial is expected early next year.