A £7m legal bill for boss in Leeds Arena fallout

Jan Fletcher.

Jan Fletcher.

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Businesswoman Jan Fletcher is facing a £7m legal bill after a judge rejected her claims against Leeds City Council over the way it ran the competition to develop the city’s new arena.

Ms Fletcher wanted more than £40m in damages from the council but in his judgement, Mr Justice Supperstone described her evidence as “unsatisfactory”, said she had a “tendency to exaggerate” and he was not satisfied some of the conversations she repeated to the court had actually taken place.

Leeds City Council will now look to recover its £4m legal bill from the nine-week High Court case from Ms Fletcher who is understood to have run up costs of around £3m.

The case saw Ms Fletcher’s property company, Montpellier Estates, accuse senior council officers and former council leader Andrew Carter of fraud and dishonesty. The accusations were either withdrawn during the case or dismissed by the judge.

The dispute centred on a council competition to find a developer for the arena in 2007.

Montpellier put forward a site known as “City One” in Holbeck but the council later cancelled the competition and decided to develop the arena itself on the Claypit Lane site.

Council chief executive Tom Riordan said the case had been a “huge drain” on resources at a time when the authority has to make major savings and he was “delighted” the integrity of his staff had been vindicated.

“It is our duty to the taxpayers of Leeds to recover our costs and that is what we intend to do.”

Coun Carter said he was “extremely angry” that he and the council had been taken to court.

“I never believed there were any merits in the case which has been hugely stressful for the council in general and for particular council officers.”

In a statement, Ms Fletcher said she was “surprised” at the judgement and was considering an appeal but remained “passionate about the city of Leeds”.

“Anyone who knew what went on in this Arena bid, will understand why we took this action against Leeds City Council,” she said.

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