04.25.12

Ken Bates : Doing His Best To Revive Print Media

Posted in Football, Free Expression, non-sporting journalism, The Law at 11:07 am by

Leeds United chairman Ken Bates (above), a CSTB fixture during his tenure at Chelsea, faces harrassment charges from LFC’s former director, Melvyn Levi and his wife, Carol, stemming from Bates’ column in Leeds’ match day program.  “Is anybody exercising control or is an elderly man being indulged in his vendettas?”, asks the Levis’ solicitor, though isn’t that typically what chairman’s notes are for? From the Guardian’s David Conn :

The Levis are suing Bates personally, Leeds United and the club-owned Yorkshire Radio station, claiming that several of Bates’s programme articles and two Yorkshire Radio broadcasts amounted to harassment of the couple. Bates, giving evidence at Leeds county court, said he continued to write about Levi because of a legal dispute, dating back to 2005, in which he claims a company connected to Levi owes the club £190,400, which Levi rejects.

Levi’s barrister, Simon Myerson QC, accused Bates of wanting to make the Levis’ lives “miserable” and said: “This is the way you conduct a legal dispute. It is not good enough for it to be in the courts. You can write about it in the programme because you own the club.”

Key to the case is an episode over Christmas 2010, after a representative instructed by Bates to serve a writ on Levi was told by Carole Levi that her husband was away and not back until the new year. Four days later, before and at half-time during Leeds’s match against Leicester City on Boxing Day, Yorkshire Radio broadcast an appeal to listeners to contact the club if they knew of Levi’s whereabouts.

Bates then wrote in the programme for the 1 January match against Middlesbrough: “We have not served Mr Levi with his writ as his wife said he was away until the New Year, which makes me speculate as to why they split for the festive season.”

In irritable exchanges with Myerson, who represented Levi in his successful libel claim against Bates in 2009 over the Leeds owner’s programme articles, Bates said Myerson had never worked “in the real world”. Myerson said pointedly: “In the real world, people can buy football clubs, have their own column in the programme, and write whatever you like about people you don’t like.”

Bates retorted: “You are being pathetic now.”

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