Judge says Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley's £15m pub row court case is 'a lot more interesting than some'

Mike Ashley heads to court earlier in the case.
Mike Ashley heads to court earlier in the case.

A High Court judge overseeing a dispute between Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley and an investment banker says the case has been "a lot more interesting than some".

Mr Justice Leggatt is hearing closing arguments from barristers representing Mr Ashley and investment banker Jeffrey Blue at a High Court trial in London.

The judge has heard how the dispute centres on a conversation in a London pub four years ago in which the Magpies owner is alleged to have promised Mr Blue £15m if he could help the

share price of Ashley's Sports Direct empire rocket to £8.

He has been told that Mr Ashley once vomited into a fireplace after a senior management meeting that was "effectively a pub lock-in" and heard that the businessman would take naps

under tables at "boring" meetings.

Barrister David Cavender, who is leading Mr Ashley's legal team, said there was a "degree of surrealism" about the case and told the judge: "We have all enjoyed it enormously."

Mr Justice Leggatt smiled as he told the court: "It's a lot more interesting than some other cases."

The judge has heard the dispute between Mr Blue and Mr Ashley, who owns Newcastle United and runs Sports Direct, centres on a conversation in the Horse and Groom pub in 2013

Mr Blue has told the judge that Mr Ashley is a ''serious businessman''.

He said the work ethic at Sports Direct was ''like nothing else I have ever seen''.

But he said Mr Ashley sometimes did business ''in unorthodox ways and in unusual venues''.

Mr Blue told Mr Justice Leggatt how Mr Ashley vomited into a fireplace after a Sports Direct senior management meeting which was ''effectively a pub lock-in''.

He said Mr Ashley would also nap under tables at ''boring'' meetings.

Mr Ashley gave evidence over two days last week and suggested that people had the wrong impression of him.

He decorated his evidence with swearwords and told the judge: ''I am not Obi-Wan Kenobi in charge of the Death Star."

Mr Ashley said any inference that Sports Direct had senior management meetings in pubs was ''100 per cent incorrect''.

He said he occasionally made decisions in a pub.

''Definitely not as a norm,'' he added.

''Otherwise I would have to live in a pub.''

He added: ''I take business decisions all day, every day, from home, from the bath.''

The judge has said he will announce his verdict in the "near future".