Sugar takes pounds 100,001 for Venables claims

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The Independent Online
The war of words between Alan Sugar and Terry Venables broke out again yesterday after their latest courtroom battle.

Mr Sugar, executive chairman of the football club Tottenham Hotspur, sued his former White Hart Lane business partner and chief executive for libel after the publication of Mr Venables' autobiography in 1994.

In the High Court in London yesterday, Mr Sugar accepted a payment of pounds 100,001 from Mr Venables and the book's publishers, Michael Joseph, who undertook to cease publication, destroy all unsold copies and not to re- publish the passages at issue.

Mr Venables, who trumpeted a triumph in interviews last month, said that only six copies of the book were left unsold to be pulped, and that copies in the shops would remain on sale. He said he was free to repeat his views and that Sugar himself would be "massively out of pocket" after picking up the bill for the seven months of litigation.

As Mr Sugar was leaving the building, he was handed a libel writ from Mr Venables relating to comments he made about Paul Gascoigne's pounds 5.5m transfer from Spurs to Lazio in a 1993 Channel 4 Dispatches documentary.

That was discounted by Mr Sugar, for whom Timothy Cassel QC told the court in an agreed statement that Mr Venables' claims last month that Mr Sugar had suffered a "humiliating defeat" were "grossly inaccurate and misleading".

The sum paid into the court by Mr Venables and his publishers was at the top end of the scale of damages that could be expected in a libel case and Mr Cassel added: "Publicity to the effect that Mr Venables somehow triumphed over Mr Sugar is utterly baseless.

"Any repetition of the passages will be met with new proceedings and also by a contempt application if he is considered to be in breach of his undertaking."

Mr Venables claimed in the book that Mr Sugar had reneged on a deal that he would sign a shareholders' agreement which would have prevented either of them gaining control of the club after they jointly bought out the previous board in 1991.

He also claimed that Mr Sugar had concealed details of irregularities which had occurred at Spurs relating to player loans, the issue that in 1994 originally saw the club fined, banned from the FA Cup and deducted 12 league points.

It was also claimed Mr Sugar had distorted or altered board meeting minutes at the club, and had dishonestly forecast the position of his computer company, Amstrad, when he planned to buy the floated company back into private control.

Mr Cassel said Mr Sugar had been "horrified" when he read the book and "maintained immediately, as he does to this day, that the allegations... were completely untrue".