Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley told the High Court that he was not “Obi-Wan Kenobi running the Death Star” as he gave evidence over a £14m legal claim against him.
The bizarre Star Wars reference came as the tycoon dismissed the case brought by investment banker Jeffrey Blue as “nonsense” and referred to Mr Blue as “that liar”.
The case centres on a conversation said to have taken place between Mr Blue and Mr Ashley during a night of heavy drinking at a central London pub called the Horse & Groom in 2013.
Mr Ashley dismissed the suggestion that he made big business decisions while in pubs as “total crap”.
He also gave an insight into his view of Shirebrook in Derbyshire where Sports Direct has its headquarters, saying it was a “very boring, lonely place”.
Mr Blue claims that the businessman reneged on a promise to pay him £15m if he used his expertise to help increase Sports Direct’s share price to £8.
He says Mr Ashley paid him only £1m, and is claiming for the remainder in damages.
Mr Ashley, who owns Newcastle United as well as running Sports Direct, denies the claim.
He said he had paid Mr Blue £1m as a bonus for work done.
Image: Investment banker Jeffrey Blue claims Mr Ashley reneged on an agreement
The court has already heard colourful evidence from Mr Blue, who said the sportswear tycoon would take naps in meetings and hold drink-fuelled management sessions – one of which culminated in him vomiting into a fireplace.
Mr Ashley said the inference that Sports Direct held senior management meetings in the pub was “100% incorrect” though he said he occasionally made decisions in a pub.
“Definitely not as a norm,” he said. “Otherwise I would have to live in a pub.”
He added: “I take business decisions all day every day, from home, from the bath.”
Mr Ashley, who was facing questions from a lawyer for Mr Blue, continued: “If you are trying to portray the impression that I just merrily make massive decisions… at the pub you are talking total crap.”
He said what Mr Blue had called senior management meetings at the pub, he would describe as a “drink after work”.
Mr Ashley described the Shirebrook location where Sports Direct has its headquarters as a “very boring, lonely place” and that going for a drink was “what we do after work”.
He set out his account of the evening out with Mr Blue and others, which is at the centre of the case, in a witness statement.
“I can’t remember the details of the conversations that we had in the pub as it was a night of heavy drinking,” he said.
He said he recalled talk about football and “a lot of banter”.
“We were pulling each other’s legs about what hypothetical value my shares would be worth ‘on paper’ at different share prices,” he added.
“I find it incredible that Mr Blue is actually suggesting that I made a binding agreement for £15m. It’s nonsense.
“If I did say to Mr Blue that I would pay him £15m if he could increase (Sports Direct’s) share price to £8, it would be obvious to everyone, including Mr Blue, that I wasn’t being serious.”
Source: SKY News