Fans' group to battle United over 'data theft'

Manchester United Supporters Trust are collecting a "fighting fund" for the possible legal defence of United supporter Thomas McKenna, who has been the subject of a legal writ from the club. McKenna published details online of United's corporate clients and the club are seeking damages through the High Court. Yesterday a club spokesman said their action was in defence of "data security" and that "doing nothing was not an option".

McKenna is an opponent of the Glazer family's ownership of United, as is the trust, whose chief executive, Duncan Drasdo, said yesterday that the supporters would stand in solidarity with McKenna. "United fans have always stood together when one of their number is attacked," he said, "and this situation should be no different – United we stand. We are collecting a fighting fund for the possible defence of any Manchester United supporter should the owners decide to pursue this aggressive litigation strategy while continuing to refuse to even talk to supporters."

United, however, are determined to pursue their legal action against McKenna. A spokesman said that the companies listed had sustained damage as a result of his actions and the club was obliged to act. United have asked the courts for damages from the 44-year-old, as well as asking that he return or destroy the information, and have sought an injunction to prevent him publishing the information again. Drasdo said that "it is hard to see what the point of this legal action is".

"The theft of data," a spokesman said, "led to some of the companies named on the list having their property attacked and suffering significant personal distress. The club has a duty to demonstrate to all our fans that we will not tolerate that and will take action against the perpetrators. We take data security very seriously. Doing nothing was not an option."

McKenna posted the information of Manchester United's clients in April last year, on a website that was linked with the anti-Glazer group United Supporters for Change.

The United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, is to meet the BBC director general, Mark Thompson, in an attempt to resolve his long-running feud with the corporation. The meeting comes at the behest of the Premier League, and was arranged by its chairman, Sir Dave Richards.

Ferguson has not spoken to the BBC since 2004, when it broadcast a documentary about Ferguson's son Jason, then working as an agent. The United manager is fined by the Premier League every time he refuses to speak to the corporation, under new rules introduced this season. Ferguson has said he will speak to the BBC again only once it has apologised.

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