Fresh legal setback for former Leeds United MD David Haigh

Former Leeds United managing director David Haigh has suffered another expensive legal setback as the multi-million pound fall-out continues from his prison ordeal in Dubai.
David Haigh.David Haigh.
David Haigh.

Mr Haigh was ordered to pay just over £230,000 in court costs in 2015 after a failed private prosecution involving human trafficking claims against a senior lawyer and two executives from his old employer GFH Capital, the investment house that used to own United.

Now he has also failed with a judicial review attempt to overturn that costs order in the High Court, although the amount he is liable for was reduced to £190,000.

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Separately, it has emerged that the ex-Leeds MD is appealing against a Dubai court’s order that he pay more than £4m to GFH after a judge ruled he had taken money “dishonestly” from the firm.

Mr Haigh was one of the men behind GFH’s purchase of Leeds in late 2012 but left the company as Italian businessman Massimo Cellino closed in on his subsequent takeover at Elland Road.

He was arrested in Dubai in May 2014 after flying to the Middle East for talks about a purported new role within the GFH group.

Mr Haigh was initially detained without charge for 14 months before being convicted of misappropriating items of monetary value from a position of trust with his former employer.

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He was sentenced to two years in prison, the majority of which he had already served.

On his return to the UK, he claimed that he had been abused “quite badly” during his time in custody.

Mr Haigh’s private prosecution, launched while he was still behind bars, alleged that former Gibson Dunn & Crutcher partner Peter Gray and GFH executives Hisham Al Rayes and Jinesh Patel engaged in “human trafficking” to lure him to Dubai.

It was dismissed at West London Magistrates’ Court in the summer of 2015 and the costs order for £230,446 followed in September that year.

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The judicial review of the case was heard in October last year before Lord Justice Gross and Mr Justice Nicol, with their judgement being released yesterday.

Mr Haigh today told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “This week’s judgement was at least partially successful in reducing the costs ordered against me. I am now considering with my legal team the appeal options.”

He also said the private prosecution had been brought in an attempt to have his voice heard in a British court, adding: “We always accepted that winning such an unprecedented action would be difficult from a jail cell.”

GFH’s lawyer, Robert Dougans, said today: “We are delighted that the English courts have seen through an attempt to abuse the court process by retrying allegations that have already been challenged and rejected.”

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The Dubai International Financial Centre Courts (DIFCC) ordered Mr Haigh to pay GFH the equivalent of £3.98m and $50,000 in November last year.

In his ruling, Justice Roger Giles said Mr Haigh had “acted dishonestly in misappropriating money from the claimant”.

Mr Haigh today said that he was appealing against the DIFCC judgement and remained “confident” about the outcome.

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