Grobbelaar wins right to appeal over 'bungs' ruling

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The Independent Online

Bruce Grobelaar, the former Liverpool and Zimbabwe goalkeeper, was granted the right to appeal to the House of Lords yesterday over claims that he had accepted "bungs" to fix football matches.

Mr Grobbelaar is seeking to dismiss a Court of Appeal judgment in January this year, which had overturned a jury verdict that he had been libelled by The Sun over the the corruption allegations.

The Court of Appeal, which declared that the jury's decision was an "affront to justice", also stripped Mr Grobbelaar of £85,000 awarded to him by the jury at the High Court libel case in August 1999. Lord Justice Jonathan Parker said: "In my judgment, the jury's verdict in this case represents a miscarriage of justice which this court can and must correct."

The court decision also left Mr Grobbelaar facing a crippling bill for legal costs, estimated at more than £1m.

The Sun claimed in a series of articles in November 1994 that Mr Grobbelaar had accepted £40,000 to make sure Liverpool lost 3-0 to Newcastle in 1993. The newspaper also alleged he had unintentionally blown his chance of earning a further £125,000 in a January 1994 game against Manchester United after making an accidental, sensational save.

Mr Grobbelaar was cleared of conspiracy in 1997 after two trials at Winchester – the first of which ended in deadlock. The second ended with Mr Grobbelaar and the ex-Wimbledon stars John Fashanu and Hans Segers and a businessman, Richard Lim, being cleared of conspiracy. He then launched the successful libel proceedings, winning the damages after telling the jury he was the victim of a "classic scam".

Earlier this year his application for leave to challenge the Court of Appeal ruling was put on hold by the law lords to give The Sun an opportunity to lodge objections to the latest moves.

Mr Grobbelaar's successful application to challenge the Court of Appeal decision was considered by the law lords in private and no reasons were given for their ruling.

Daniel Taylor, solicitor for News International Newspapers, publisher of The Sun, said: "Given the devastating nature of the previous ruling, which found unanimously and unambiguously that Bruce Grobbelaar had corruptly accepted bribes to throw football matches, we are surprised at the decision. We are, however, confident of success at the full hearing of his appeal."