Former Leeds manager in libel suit against Sun and club chairman Bates

Former Leeds United manager Kevin Blackwell has kicked off a legal battle with News Group Newspapers over a story in The Sun.

He is suing the publishers, as well as journalist Mark Irwin and club chairman Ken Bates, over a story headed ‘Bates Exclusive’which he claims was defamatory.

Blackwell, who managed Leeds United between June 2004 and September 2006, is demanding damages of £100,000.

Bates’ allegations meant that he shamelessly evaded and avoided responsibility for his actions, his managerial incompetence would have resulted in Leeds being relegated in December, and he lost control of the dressing room, and left it in complete disarray, according to a High Court writ.

Blackwell says the story has seriously injured his character and reputation, and that he has suffered considerable upset and embarrassment.

Leeds United went into administration in May 2007, and was relegated to the first division, when Bates was chairman, the writ says. Blackwell says Bates’s words were part of a wider article in which he tried to blame others for the misfortunes of Leeds United, in a cynical attempt to absolve himself of any responsibility for the club’s misfortunes.

Irwin wrote the words which are plainly defamatory, and did not seek any response from Blackwell before publication, the writ claims. Blackwell says it should be inferred that News Group and Irwin were indifferent to his reputation and feelings.

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