Judge orders pools man to share pounds 1.8m

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A forklift truck driver who broke a promise to share a pounds 1.8m pools win with three workmates was yesterday ordered to pay them more than pounds 25,000 each.

Martin Foulds, Andrew Sullivan and Graham Ware claimed they struck an agreement sealed by a handshake with Paul Pitt that if any individual won more than pounds 1m on the pools they would give pounds 25,000 to each of the others.

Bournemouth County Court was told that three days after his win, Mr Pitt refused to give the others any money and simply offered to buy them a round of drinks. The three men issued a writ for breach of contract.

A judge yesterday ruled in favour of the action, which was funded by legal aid. Mr Pitt, 28, must pay the three men pounds 25,000 each, plus interest. He was also ordered to pay the costs of the case, estimated at up to pounds 80,000.

The court was told that when he hit the Littlewoods jackpot in May 1993, he offered only drinks to Mr Foulds, 28, Mr Sullivan, 26, and Mr Ware, also 26.

In her ruling yesterday, Judge Jane Bonvin said: "I find on a clear balance of probability that there was not only discussion about sharing any winnings but that it was made clear between them that the winner would pay over to the other three pounds 25,000 in the event of winning more than pounds 1m.

"I find that the agreement between the parties in this case amounted to much more than a casual promise or a rough and ready statement of intent. Such promises amounted to a clear and enforceable agreement."

An earlier hearing was told that the men were forklift truck drivers at Pall Europe Engineering, in Portsmouth.They formed the pools syndicate at work in 1990, agreeing with a handshake the pounds 25,000 deal.

They all completed separate pools coupons as well as a joint one. Mr Pitt's individual entry won pounds 1,803,297.15. The judge said: "It would be sensible for anyone who is currently party to an agreement of this nature to set it down in writing."

Outside court, Mr Foulds said: "We are overjoyed by the result and that justice has prevailed. Paul Pitt's actions were totally unwarranted - he was just being greedy."

But Mr Pitt said: "I have always firmly believed in the truth of my case ... certainly if the others had won on their coupons I would not have expected any money."

He denied he was greedy and said he was considering an appeal. "I could have settled before this came to court and saved a lot of money."