The director leading the controversial £5.6 million management buyout bid for Lees Foods banned The Herald from a shareholder meeting connected to the proposed takeover in an attempt to limit publicity about it.

Clive Miquel yesterday took the unusual step of preventing The Herald attending a session at which shareholders were asked to delay a crunch vote on the MBO bid by a week.

Yesterday's meeting had originally been scheduled to allow shareholders to comment and vote in person on the plan, led by Mr Miquel, to take the AIM-listed company back into private ownership.

Such meetings are a standard feature in the process of takeovers.

Those involving stock market-listed companies are almost always open to the press.

However, when The Herald tried to gain entry to yesterday's meeting at the offices of Lees Foods' lawyer, Burness, Mr Miquel said the newspaper would not be allowed in "on this occasion".

Asked to explain his action, he told The Herald: "You know the background to the proposal. Given that, I don't want to unnecessarily cause further coverage of what is a fairly simple meeting."

Mr Miquel declined to make any comment regarding the proposed MBO, the subject of considerable controversy since it was announced last month.

Some shareholders have complained that the 230p per share offer undervalues the Coatbridge-based company, whose range includes popular confectionary products such as snowballs.

David Stredder, a shareholder in Lees, who is a director of the Sharesoc investor group, said: "They came to the market at £2 per share seven years ago when they were making half of what they do now, yet they're exiting just 30p per share higher."

Mr Stredder noted that if the MBO succeeded, shareholders would have to do without a dividend for 2011, during which the company increased pre-tax profits by 6% to £1.09m, from £1.03m in the preceding year.

He also said the MBO bid raised corporate governance issues as all the directors of Lees Foods are members of the MBO team, meaning none is able to provide an independent recommendation to shareholders.

In the statement announcing a recommended bid approach issued on 10 April, Lees Foods noted all its directors would be shareholders in the MBO vehicle, Randotte.

The company said the brokerage that acts as independent financial adviser to the board, Shore Capital, had recommended that shareholders accept the bid.

The company proposed delaying the meeting to consider the MBO bid to May 22, so that shareholders would have time to consider the annual results. It said the adjournment was agreed yesterday.

The results were issued on May 8. Some shareholders had objected that the statement announcing the recommended bid only included interim results.

In a letter posted to shareholders on April 19, directors of Lees Foods said: "The company would be better placed as a private company given the ongoing costs associated with being on AIM and the time demands on key members of the team associated with the listing. The board believes that the size of the company and the lack of liquidity in its shares do not make it suited to being admitted to trading on AIM."