Mike Ashley dismisses £14m claim as 'drink banter'

Mike Ashley Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mike Ashley was at the High Court for the hearing

Billionaire Mike Ashley has dismissed claims he owes a finance expert £14m and said their conversations were "drink banter", a court has heard.

The Newcastle United owner is being sued by Jeffrey Blue at London's High Court.

Mr Blue said he was promised £15m if he managed to increase Sports Direct's share price to £8, but that he only received £1m.

But Mr Ashley said their meetings were drink-fuelled "banter".

Mr Blue says Mr Ashley, who runs Sports Direct, did not stick to a commercial agreement.

But in a written statement, the sportswear tycoon said: "I can't believe that [Mr Blue] is now trying to take me for £14m off the back of some drink banter that he is seeking to engineer into something more."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Finance expert Jeffrey Blue claims he was promised £15m for pushing up the price of shares

Mr Justice Leggatt has heard that the dispute between Mr Blue and Mr Ashley relates to a conversation in a London pub called the Horse & Groom in 2013.

Mr Blue came under attack from Mr Ashley's lawyers as he gave evidence during the second day of the hearing.

Mike Ashley 'vomited into fireplace at pub meeting'

David Cavender QC, who leads Mr Ashley's legal team, accused Mr Blue of "making up evidence" and said the claim was an "opportunistic try-on".

Mr Cavender also said Mr Ashley "fairly" said he could not recall details of conversations in the Horse & Groom, "particularly in the light of the amount of drinking".

"He does recall 'that there was a lot of banter and bravado'.

"He does not recall any discussion about whether Mr Blue would be paid a sum of money if the share price reached £8 a share."

Mr Ashley is due to give evidence on Wednesday.

The hearing continues.

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