Morrisons has launched a legal case against former employees of Safeway including its former chairman David Webster to recoup up to £16.4m it faces for alleged dairy price fixing with other retailers.

The supermarket, which bought Safeway in 2004, has launched its case against Webster and 10 other ex-employees. The Financial Times reports that Morrisons is trying to recover between £10.7m and £16.4m that Safeway is due to be fined for admitting its part in a milk cartel that was allegedly run by a group of supermarkets and dairies.

Webster said he was shocked to receive the claim which he called “without precedent” and “unjust”. He added: “The claim will be vigorously defended in law and fact.”

Morrisons and the other 10 defendants involved did not comment on the case.

Yesterday Morrisons let its former chief executive Marc Bolland out of his contract early to take the helm at M&S in May.

Morrisons’ new boss Dalton Philips will take over as chief executive in March.