Soccer boss wins in ‘shyster’ libel

By James Brewster, July 9, 2009
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Former Leeds UNITED FC director Mevyn Levi has been awarded £50,000 in libel damages against Ken Bates at London’s High Court. Mr Bates, who has been refused leave to appeal, was also ordered to pay the costs of the nine-day libel case, estimated to be just over £1 million.

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 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.
After the judgment, 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 had declined to accept those terms.

Part of the court case also centred on an allegation made by Mr Levi in an October 2006 edition of the Daily Mail that, in calling him a “shyster”, Mr Bates had used language “the Nazis would have used”.
Mr Bates countered by accusing Mr Levi of making “false accusations” that he was antisemitic.

However, Sir Charles said: “For Mr Levi to say that Mr Bates used language that the Nazis would have used is a far cry from accusing him of antisemitism.”

    Last updated: 10:42am, July 9 2009