Leeds United chairman Ken Bates has been accused of wasting £4m of the club’s money fighting legal battles against a former club director, after a gagging order was imposed upon him.
Bates was yesterday (June 7) ordered to pay £10,000 damages plus legal costs and given an injunction stopping him from publishing personal information about Leeds man Melvyn Levi.
The order comes after a bitter court battle between the two men over comments he made about him in matchday programmes about the state of Mr Levi’s marriage
Melvyn Levi and wife Carole also sued Bates over stress the suffered announcements on the club radio station allegedly likening Mr Levi to a criminal on the run. A judge described the lack of concern Bates showed for the couple as “chilling”.
It was Mr Levi’s second legal victory against Bates after he sued him for £50,000 plus costs in 2009 over programme articles.
After the hearing at Leeds County Court, Mr Levi said: “Mr Bates or Leeds United have spent coming up to £4m in trying to fight two old age pensioners and I think it is absolutely disgraceful.
He added: “It is money that Leeds United need for players not for ridiculous court actions they can’t afford.”
The claim was against Bates, the club and its radio station, Yorkshire Radio. Judge Mark Gosnell granted an injunction banning Bates from reporting details about Mr Levi’s private life for the next two years.
Bates will still be allowed to publish “objective” reports about ongoing legal proceedings between the two men.
Mrs Levi’s claim failed but Bates was ordered to pay 30 per cent of the couple’s legal costs in addition to Mr Levi’s damages. The judge referred to the sums spent by both sides in the case as “astounding”.
Bates was accused of using the club’s programme to pursue a personal vendetta and making the lives of the Levis “a misery” after he wrote an article in January last year speculating on why the couple had “split” over the festive season.
Details of a 40-page judgement relating to a four-day hearing held in April this year were released yesterday.
Judge Gosnell said Bates’s motivation to report derogatory matters about Mr Levi were as a result of a ‘personal grudge’ and that the radio broadcasts were calculated to cause harm or distress.
It states: “I find them to be more than unattractive and boorish and are serious enough to sustain criminal liability in the event of breach.”
Responding to yesterday’s decision, Mr Bates told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “My immediate reaction is that [Mr Levi] hasn’t done too well.”
Asked if the damages award and costs would be paid by the club or out of his personal pocket, he said he was “not commenting” until he had read the court’s judgment.