Dave King has escaped jail after Mike Ashley failed in his bid at the High Court to get the Rangers chairman jailed for breaching a gagging order.
Sports Direct launched a legal action against Rangers and King over what they saw as an alleged breach of an injunction imposed in June.
The South African based businessman had been accused of breaching June’s injunction when he gave an interview from his plush mansion in South Africa with Sky Sports’ Jim White, just a month later.
King could have faced up to 30 days in prison if he was found in contempt of court, but while the judge has not ruled out a breach of the injunction he has rejected the application from Sports Direct to jail King.
Despite reports in the mainstream media claiming that King had been cleared of contempt of court, Judge Peter Smith ended the second session by saying ‘that it was a bit premature to report “Mr King has been vindicated”‘ and advised the Rangers chairman not to say anything to the press until the full judgement was concluded.
Adding that just because he had dismissed commital, it does not mean he has ‘acquitted’ King.
This warning was after King had already given an interview to STV Sport during lunch break where he stated his delight over ‘a humiliating defeat for Mike Ashley’.
Speaking to STV’s Grant Russell, King said: “Unsurprising. Glad we had a strong judge who saw this matter for what it really is. It was a humiliating defeat for Mike Ashley. I’ve never witnessed a strong judge really virtually tearing someone apart the way he did today. It was an absolutely humiliating defeat for Mike Ashley. I’m delighted with the outcome.”
During the hearing, Rangers’ lawyers claimed that the club had repaid the £5 million loan owed to Sports Direct, but no documentary evidence was produced and Sports Direct’s lawyer could not confirm if this was true either.
Justice Smith also rounded on the press when discussing King’s comments to the media, he added: “How do you prove it was an accurate account of what he said? It wouldn’t be the first time the press didn’t report in full. I am not going to send a person to prison on inferences.”
Following Justice Smith throwing out the application to jail King, he questioned what was the point of spending around £400,000 on the case. Rangers’ counsel, during the hearing, claimed their fees were roughly around £300,000.
Rangers and Sports Direct are back in court tomorrow morning at 10am to receive the full judgement and decision, and will consider an application to vary the terms of the injunction between the two parties.