Chef gets bill after court loss
Chef Marco Pierre White has been left with a legal bill for hundreds of thousands of pounds after losing a High Court fight with two former business partners.
Mr White said he was out of pocket because Andrew Parton and Peter Featherman had breached an agreement relating to the running of The Yew Tree restaurant in Highclere near Newbury, Berkshire. He said he had lost out on shares worth about £175,000 and claimed damages.
But a judge has dismissed his claim - following a High Court hearing in London - and said Mr White must pay all the costs of the case. Mr Justice Morgan said Mr White had not been "honest" - and he questioned the chef's "intelligence" in bringing the claim.
Lawyers told the court that legal costs amounted to hundreds of thousands of pounds - and later estimated that the chef could be left with a bill for as much as £500,000.
The judge had been told that that the case centred on a dispute over whether an agreement had been conditional on Mr White's name being associated with The Yew Tree - a 17th-century inn. Mr Parton and Mr Featherman said a condition was that Mr White's name could be used. Mr White said "no such pre-condition" was agreed.
Mr Justice Morgan ruled against Mr White after hearing evidence earlier this month. He said Mr Parton and Mr Featherman had been "reliable" witnesses - but Mr White had not.
Lawyers had outlined arguments in written submissions. Papers described Mr White as a "well-known celebrity chef and restaurateur". The judge was told that Mr White had become involved in the running of The Yew Tree in 2005 before his name was "removed" about five years later.
Mr Justice Morgan said it had been Mr White who had "resiled" from the "original plan" - and the judge said the chef's claim had been "a very bold one".
"I find that Mr White's witness statement is far more reconstruction than it is recollection. He was plainly an unreliable witness," said Mr Justice Morgan. "Mr White was not straightforward. He was not honest in his evidence. I would also question his intelligence in bringing the claim at all."
The judge added: "Mr White has been a bit of an idiot. It may be he has been a dishonest idiot on top. He is a wealthy man. He brought utterly misconceived proceedings." And, after ruling that Mr White should foot the entire costs bill, Mr Justice Morgan went on: "I think that it is not a bad thing for Mr White to face up to the consequences of his actions."