Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Green gives evidence in tycoon case

Businessman Sir Philip Green leaves the High Court after giving evidence in the case brought by Michelle Young against her estranged husband, Scot Young
Businessman Sir Philip Green leaves the High Court after giving evidence in the case brought by Michelle Young against her estranged husband, Scot Young
Scot Young arrives at the High Court for the case brought against him by his wife, Michelle Young.
Michelle Young arrives at the High Court today for the case brought by her against her husband, Scot Young.

One of the UK's best-known businessmen has told a High Court judge that he was a "sort of" friend of a property dealer accused of ''manipulating'' his financial affairs so as to ''do down'' his estranged wife.

But Sir Philip Green told Mr Justice Moor that he had "no idea" how wealthy property dealer Scot Young had been.

Mr Young, 51, and his estranged wife Michelle, 49, are fighting over money at a trial in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

Mrs Young says Mr Young is worth ''a few billion at least'' and says ''there was a vast fortune hidden''.

She says she is a victim of ''fraud'' because Mr Young has manipulated his affairs so as to do her down - and wants her fair share.

Mr Young disputes Mrs Young's claims.

He says he went into "meltdown" in 2006, is penniless and bankrupt and has debts which add up to £28 million.

"I have known Mr Young for about 10 or 15 years," Sir Philip told the judge.

"I got introduced to him. I cannot remember how or where. I sort of became a friend.

"I wasn't in business with him. I believe my family was offered an investment (in a company).

"I think we made an investment in that company."

He said he had never been involved in property deals with Mr Young.

A lawyer representing Mrs Young asked Sir Philip what impression he had of Mr Young's wealth prior to his "demise as he puts it" in 2006.

"No idea," said Sir Philip. "I assume he was doing business. He was comfortable. I don't ask people I do business with what their banks statements are."

Sir Philip today told the judge that he thought he had met Mrs Young once and told the judge: "I think I met Mr Young from time to time."

He said he had loaned Mr Young £80,000.

Sir Philip had said in a written statement - given to the judge - that he had loaned Mr Young £50,000 for the "purpose of providing part of the deposit" for the purchase of a property in September 2008.

And he said he had loaned Mr Young "£30,000" for the "purpose of rent" in December 2008.

"This came from my personal bank account," he said in the statement. "Scot explained his financial position to me and explained the problems he was having he asked me if I could help which I agreed to do."

He agreed, when questioned today, that the £80,000 was to "support" Mrs Young and the couple's two children.

"I provided the money to Mr Young," Sir Philip told the judge. "That happened to be on behalf of Mrs Young as a favour."

He said: "Clearly I haven't got it back."

But he said he thought that if Mr Young got "back into business" the loan would be re-paid.

As he left the courtroom Sir Philip handed lawyers representing Mrs Young a cheque and said "give that to your client".

Businessman Richard Caring told Mr Justice Moor today that he loaned Mr Young money.

Mr Caring, a restaurant and property entrepreneur, said in a statement that he loaned Mr Young £50,000 in September 2009.

He said he had "decided to help" Mr Young and his family.

"This came from my personal bank account," he said in the statement, given to the judge.

"The reason I lent Mr Young this money is that I have known him for many years and he explained his financial position to me and explained the problems he was having. I decided to help him and his family."

Mr Caring added: "At no time have I held money or assets either directly or indirectly for Mr Young."

Mrs Young's associates said outside court that the cheque had been for £50 and had been sent to Sir Philip to cover any expenses he might have incurred as a result of being summonsed to give evidence.

Sir Philip did not provide details of his business career to the court but he is one of the UK's best-known retail bosses. He runs the Arcadia Group, which includes Topshop, BHS and Dorothy Perkins.

A lawyer representing Mrs Young asked Mr Caring today to give details of his personal and professional relationship with the Youngs.

"I have no relationship at all with Mrs Young. My professional and personal relationship with Mr Young dates back 20 years," Mr Caring told the judge.

"I didn't really expect Scot to repay the money... I had known him for such a long time. The least I could do was try to help him in some way.

"I loaned him money on the basis that if there was a time when he could repay the money that would be agreed. If there was not, there was not."

He added: "He didn't ask me to money, or to aid him, to pay Michelle. It was much more to defend himself in the current action."

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