Three former Tesco executives have been accused by prosecutors of “cooking the books” and bullying subordinates into compliance on day one of their fraud trial.

The trial, which was due to commence earlier this month but was adjourned until today, relates to the grocer’s £263m overstatement of profits in 2014.

Lead prosecutor Sasha Wass told the jury at Southwark Crown Court today that the former directors were “cooking the books” in order to secure huge compensation packages.

According to Reuters, Wass told the jury the defendants “pressured others working under their control to conduct themselves in such a way that the stock market was ultimately misled”.

“The three defendants on trial are not the foot soldiers. The defendants in this case are the generals in a position of trust and had huge compensation packages to safeguard the financial health of Tesco,” Wass told the court.

The three defendants – Christopher Bush, former managing director of Tesco UK, Carl Rogberg, former UK finance director, and John Scouler, former UK food commercial director – all deny the charges of fraud and false accounting.

In the aftermath of the scandal, Tesco suspended eight senior members of staff including Bush, Rogberg and Scouler.

The trial is scheduled to last up to 12 weeks.