Ken Bates loses 'shyster' libel case

By James Brewster, July 2, 2009
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Ken Bates: matchday comments

Ken Bates: matchday comments

Former Leeds Utd director Melvyn Levi has been awarded £50,000 in libel damages against Ken Bates at London's High Court.

Mr Levi, 65, sued Mr Bates, 77, over three articles written by the Leeds United chairman in the club’s match-day programme in 2006 and 2007, and a letter sent to fans in 2007.

The articles variously accused Mr Levi - whose address was also printed in one of the programmes - of being a shyster, an “enemy within”, attempting to blackmail the club and scaring off potential investors.

The dispute arose after Mr Bates - who fought the claim tooth and nail - took over the club in early 2005 from the Yorkshire Consortium Trust, of which Mr Levi was a member.

Ruling that the articles in the three match day programmes were defamatory, Sir Charles Gray awarded Mr Levi £50,000 in damages.

The judge ruled that the letter written to the club's fans had a defence of "qualified privilege" and was not libellous.

After the judgement, Simon Myerson QC, for Mr Levi, told Sir Charles that in December 2008, Mr Levi had offered to settle the action for £15,000 damages and an apology, but Mr Bates declined to accept those terms.

Last updated: 3:24pm, August 17 2009