No deal for Noel Edmonds as he loses court case

Judge rules against TV presenter who sued 'the brother he never had' over property deals

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The Independent Online

Noel Edmonds lost a bitter feud with a man he described as "the brother he never had" yesterday when a High Court judge found against the TV presenter.

The court heard how Edmonds had turned to Ulrik Lawson for emotional support when his second marriage fell apart in 2005 and the pair had become close friends. But a series of property deals turned sour and led to a battle of words between the two men in court.

While Edmonds was claiming Mr Lawson owed him £300,000 for a venture that collapsed, the construction entrepreneur was counter-suing for an equally hefty amount for work he had carried out on another house. The presenter, famed for pressing his contestants to make a "Deal or No Deal" on the Channel 4 show, lost both cases yesterday.

In the first case, Edmonds, 62, claimed Mr Lawson, who ran a construction business, agreed to manage the refurbishment of his £1.3m house in Exeter, Devon, for "no fee", an assertion his friend, the son of the former Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces Northern Europe General Sir Richard Lawson, denied.

During the trial in Bristol in September, Judge Wilcox, heard how Edmonds received a "great deal of emotional support" from Mr Lawson after he split from his ex-wife Helen and "from time to time" used his home as his "base in England". The judge said: "The close relationship between the parties later became an impediment when they tried to objectively analyse their business arrangements."

In court Edmonds claimed he would not have bought St Serf in Exeter had it not been for "Ulrik's assertion" he could turn it into "the first £2 million house in Exeter". In 2008, after renovation, it was sold for more than that.

But a feud broke out when Edmonds insisted the deal meant Mr Lawson would manage the renovation on a cost basis and charge no fee, a claim the other man refuted, insisting "he could not afford to work in such a way".

During the case, Mr Lawson's father, Sir Richard, was dragged into the row when Edmonds alleged in court he had met him in February 2008 and the General complained of "bailing out his unsuccessful and irresponsible son". Edmonds said they had "shaken hands" on bringing in an independent expert to assess the value of the work. Yet the Lawsons denied the meeting took place and Sir Richard told the court he had "never discussed his son in those terms".

Yesterday, the judge agreed with them, rejected Edmonds evidence a deal was made and was scathing about his assistant Maria Robertson, whose testimony he described as "wholly unreliable", adding she had been "willing to lie and dissemble to assist Mr Edmonds".

In the second case, Edmonds claimed he was owed £300,000 after a £2m estate in South Tawton, which he planned to develop with Mr Lawson, failed to get planning permission and it was sold in 2008 at a loss. Edmonds claimed Mr Lawson "persuaded" him to "come on board" by agreeing his investment would be "repaid in priority" in the event of a sale. But the judge said: "I do not accept there was any such promise made by Mr Lawson."