‘Stalinist’ approach of Leeds United chairman Ken Bates to fans - court LATEST

Ken Bates.
Ken Bates.
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Leeds United chairman Ken Bates was yesterday described in court as an “unreliable man” who has a “Stalinist” approach to keeping the club’s fans informed.

Mr Bates’s behaviour towards a former club director, who is suing him for damages for harassment, was described as “the politics of the playground”.

Melvin Levi’s barrister Simon Meyerson QC made the comments during closing submissions on the fourth day of the latest courtroom battle between Mr Bates and Mr Levi.

He said that rather than keep the club’s fans informed, Mr Bates only told them things he wanted them to hear.

The lawyer said: “I do not think Mr Bates takes kindly to me and he won’t take kindly to what I’m about to say – it is a Stalinist approach.”

Referring to Mr Bates’s evidence, he said: “We submit that as a witness he is unreliable, and as a man he is unreliable.”

Businessman Mr Levi and his wife Carole claim they have suffered stress as a result of announcements on the club radio station allegedly likening Mr Levi to a criminal on the run.

They also claim comments made by Mr Bates in his programme notes amounted to speculation over the state of their marriage.

Mr Levi is seeking damages from Mr Bates, the club and its radio station – Yorkshire Radio – at Leeds County Court.

Earlier, Mr Bates’s barrister, Jacob Dean, said Mr Levi should be prepared for criticism after choosing to become involved in football club ownership.

He said: “Mr Levi is a public figure. He chose to enter the world of sport by taking a substantial stake in a football club. He knew about the controversy that football club owners can attract if things do not go well.”

Mr Levi claims radio announcements asking for information on his whereabouts during a Leeds match on Boxing Day 2010 likened him to “a fugitive”.

Over that Christmas period, Mr Bates was trying to serve a writ against Mr Levi but found out from his wife that he was away until the New Year.

The Leeds chairman was pursuing legal action against Mr Levi for £190,400 Mr Bates claims he and another party owed the club. Mr Levi was part of a consortium which took over the club when it was in dire financial trouble in 2004. Mr Bates bought the club in 2005 from a consortium including Mr Levi.

Mr Dean added: “He (Mr Levi) accepted that club owners have to have thick skins. He accepted himself that he is not a shrinking violet.”