Independent suffered a setback this week after senior figures quit amid rumours of a rift with managing director Michael Bright.

Insurance Times has been told that on Friday May 5, Bright asked assistant general managers Kevin Pallet and Jeff Crisp to take on extra responsibilities.

It is claimed that both refused and Bright gave them an ultimatum to consider over the weekend: take the extra work or do not come back.

Neither returned to the office the following Monday and they are now said to be on "gardening leave".

Independent marketing director, Graeme Sutton, denied the rift and said both were working out a six-month notice period. He said: "Kevin and John have been with us for over ten years. They have departed for new challenges and their departures are very amicable. But I must say categorically that they are still working with the company."

But Insurance Times has been told by three sources, including one from Independent, that the two are no longer working for the company.