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The BBC's Terry Stiatsky
"The allegation made in the Daily Mail about him had been the last straw"
 real 56k

Friday, 16 February, 2001, 16:25 GMT
Sugar wins libel damages
Sir Alan Sugar
Sir Alan: Donating damages to Great Ormond Street Hospital
Tottenham Hotspur chairman Sir Alan Sugar has won 100,000 in High Court libel damages against the Daily Mail.

The 53-year-old businessman sued the newspaper over an article published in December 1999 which accused him of being miserly in the way he ran the club.

Associated Newspapers and top soccer writer Jeff Powell denied libel and pleaded that the report was an honestly expressed view based on fact.


This case was about freedom of expression

Daily Mail spokesman

The newspaper, which will have to pay the costs of the case, was granted leave to appeal.

Hearing the verdict, Sir Alan mopped his brow with a handkerchief and smiled at his wife, Ann, who squeezed his arm in congratulation.

Sir Alan, who is to donate the damages to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, said afterwards: "I am just pleased it's all over really. It has been a terrible time."

"I think that today has not just been a victory for me. It has been for a lot of other people, people who can't afford to come here and pay the costs to go through these things and fight against these newspapers.

'Wrong players'

"Newspapers destroy people's lives. They take the mickey out of people just to increase their circulation. My victory today, I hope, will help to stop all that."

Outside the court, a spokesman for the newspaper said: "This case was about freedom of expression.

"Jeff Powell and the Daily Mail were defending their right to comment in hard-hitting terms on a matter of public interest."

Mr Powell told the court in London there was no question that Sir Alan had put Spurs on a sound financial footing, but he considered that he had under-invested in the team.

He felt that there should have been a greater response to Tottenham's achievement in winning the Worthington Cup in 1999 and their promising start to the new season.

'Devastated

"I just felt George Graham deserved an injection of cash and if two terrific players were brought in there could have been a transformation and the story of Tottenham could have been different now," he said.

Sir Alan, who is to sell two-thirds of his shareholding in the club because of the criticism he has received from fans, told the jury that it was not his fault that Tottenham had not won the English football Premiership.

He said that during his time at White Hart Lane nearly 100m had been spent on the club, with new manager George Graham arriving in October 1998 to build up a successful side.

"All I've ever tried to do is my best for this football club," he said.

"I can't help it if managers went out and bought the wrong players. I can only provide the money.

Spurs director of football David Pleat
Pleat gave evidence in the case
"To see this rubbish here - and it's total rubbish - has just devastated me."

During the libel trial it was revealed that Mr Graham passed up opportunities to sign Kieron Dyer and Robbie Keane before they made it big.

Giving evidence, the club's director of football, David Pleat, claimed both Dyer and Keane were recommended to Mr Graham while they were at Ipswich and Wolves respectively.

Sir Alan said Mr Graham had never asked for a player that he had refused to pay for and had never complained that he did not have enough money.

"Every single penny generated in that football club is devoted to buying players," he said.

"We don't have a separate pot for the chairman's heated seat in the directors' box. Everything that is surplus goes to buying players and paying their wages."

He added: "How do you think I feel about it? Do you think I feel happy and proud about this? We spent all that money and got nowhere."

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15 Feb 01 | Tottenham Hotspur
Graham snubbed Dyer and Keane
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