Ken Bates told to pay libel damages

Leeds United chairman Ken Bates has been ordered to pay 50,000 libel damages to a former club director who alleged he had been "persecuted".

Businessman Melvyn Levi, 65, brought an action at London's High Court over a letter and three articles written in club programmes.

Mr Levi said he had been accused of trying to blackmail the club and of being unscrupulous and dishonourable.

Mr Bates, 78, had denied libel, pleading fair comment.

Judge Sir Charles Gray said the libel action arose out of events surrounding the acquisition of Leeds United by a consortium headed by Mr Bates in 2005.

Mr Levi claimed the material in the club programmes contained "grave and offensive" libels which "seriously injured" his reputation.

Mr Levi said he was accused of being a "shyster" who had tried to blackmail the club over money.

The judge ruled that Mr Bates had failed in his defences of justification and fair comment.