Belfast Telegraph

Celtic boss Neil Lennon settles legal action with Bank of Ireland

Relieved Celtic boss Neil Lennon has flown back to Scotland from the Republic after settling a legal action with Bank of Ireland over a guarantee given for a €3m (£2.6m) loan.

Mr Lennon took time off from preparing his side for a crunch Scottish Premier League match with Hearts tomorrow night to be in Dublin.

The Lurgan man arrived with fiancee Irene McCloy at the city’s High Court, where a judge was told the action taken by Bank of Ireland had been settled for an undisclosed amount.

Bank of Ireland had admitted it lost the guarantee papers but insisted it could produce evidence the former Northern Ireland international signed them at Dublin Airport in February 2006.

The bank sought summary judgment against Mr Lennon over the alleged loan guarantee last year when the Republic’s Commercial Court heard the football boss had a credible defence and had not executed the guarantee.

The court ruled the matter should go to full hearing and adjourned to yesterday to be heard by Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan.

Following talks, the judge was told the matter had been settled and could be adjourned until March for the making of any necessary consequential orders. The settlement’s terms were confidential.

The bank claimed Mr Lennon, with an address at Queen's Gardens, Glasgow, was a director of Rocket Developments Ltd, The Crescent, Dundalk, Co Louth.

It claimed it loaned Rocket €3m (£2.6m) in early 2006 to part-fund the proposed purchase of seven acres of zoned residential land at Knockbridge, Dundalk.

The loan principal and interest were to be cleared in full within a 12-month period from the sale of serviced sites on those lands.

The bank claimed Mr Lennon signed a personal letter of guarantee for the loan for €3,070,000 (£2,653,000) at Dublin Airport on February 24, 2006, in the presence of two bank officials.

Three days later, the bank claimed, Mr Lennon brought the signed personal guarantee to the Bank of Ireland’s branch in Dundalk. It was discovered in mid-to-late 2006 that the guarantee had been mislaid and extensive searches failed to locate it.

Mr Lennon had refused to re-sign a copy of the guarantee, the bank also claimed. It alleged it was entitled to rely on the terms of its standard personal guarantee.

Rocket defaulted on its loan obligations and Mr Lennon was liable for €3.07m (£2.66m) under his alleged guarantee, it was claimed.

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