Newcastle chief loses injunction bid

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NEWCASTLE United's chairman, Freddy Shepherd, yesterday lost his High Court attempt to win an injunction against the News of the World to prevent the newspaper publishing further details in tomorrow's edition of a conversation he had with an undercover reporter.

During a two-and-a-half-hour hearing, it was claimed that Mr Shepherd had met an undercover reporter for a business meeting and that the newspaper reports had been a breach of business confidence. But Mr Justice Lindsay, threw out the application and said: "Freddy Shepherd has been whoring around the world and has no right to protection from breach of confidence."

Meanwhile, Newcastle's fans reacted furiously yesterday to news that Mr Shepherd, and the vice-chairman, Douglas Hall, would not be resigning. Supporters have been calling for them to step down since Sunday when the newspaper published remarks that they are alleged to have boasted about their sexual exploits, made insulting remarks about some of the club's star players, mocked the supporters for buying replica shirts and called women from the North-east "dogs".

Yesterday, Gerrard Tyrrell, Mr Hall's solicitor, said his client had no intention of resigning as they had been "stitched up right royally". Mr Hall owns 57 per cent of the club's shares and Mr Shepherd owns 7 per cent.

Alarmingly for the club, the three independent non-executive directors of Newcastle United plc were said yesterday to be considering their positions. It is understood that Sir Terence Harrison, Denis Cassidy and John Mayo will resign in protest if Mr Shepherd and Mr Hall are unable to disprove the allegations by legal action because of worries about the consequences for their own reputations.

Such a development would throw the public company into crisis. But the three independent directors are unhappy that the scandal may reflect badly on their City reputations.

Sir Terence, the chairman of Newcastle United plc, the quoted parent company of the football club, is also chairman of the building firm Alfred McAlpine. Mr Cassidy is the former head of Liberty, the London department store and Boddington's brewery. Mr Mayo is finance director of electronics group GEC.

Although Mr Shepherd and Mr Hall take issue with the claims, they have not issued a libel writ. Mr Tyrrell said: "If they did say these things, they totally apologise and it was totally out of character. They are the life blood of the club."

The Toon saga, page 18

Sport, Time Off, page 24