Friday 30 September 2016

Ex-Newcastle boss Alan Pardew accused of giving 'untrue' evidence to Jonas Gutierrez case

Richard Vernalls

Published 30/03/2016 | 17:14

The closing remarks have been made at the employment tribunal of Jonas Gutierrez, centre, in Birmingham
The closing remarks have been made at the employment tribunal of Jonas Gutierrez, centre, in Birmingham

A tribunal considering ex-Newcastle midfielder Jonas Gutierrez's claim he suffered discrimination at the hands of his old employer has heard an allegation former manager Alan Pardew gave "untrue" evidence.

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In closing remarks to an employment tribunal in Birmingham on Wednesday, the player's barrister said the case was "unusual, high profile, and it's involved a number of high profile individuals", including former club managers Pardew, John Carver and managing director Lee Charnley.

Martin Budworth, Gutierrez's barrister, claimed Newcastle's witnesses to the tribunal were "not just mistaken about this, but are giving knowingly untrue evidence".

He alleged that Pardew had given "suspicious evidence" and that his account had been "tailored" to fit the club's versions of events.

The Argentinian, who has already given evidence to the tribunal, is reported to be seeking about £2million in compensation for a disability discrimination claim, after alleging Newcastle ensured he did not start enough matches to trigger a lucrative one-year contract extension.

Gutierrez, currently playing for Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna, spent seven seasons with Newcastle after joining the club in 2008, and underwent an operation to remove a tumour in his left testicle in October 2013.

In a statement to the tribunal, the 32-year-old said he was called into then manager Pardew's office in early December 2013 - when he felt he was returning to full fitness - to be told that he no longer featured in Newcastle's future plans, and was free to agree terms with another club.

However, Pardew - when he gave evidence, said he had told the player of his squad plans as early as the pre-season of that year, and months before the player's diagnosis for testicular cancer.

Newcastle, which is owned by businessman Mike Ashley, deny any wrongdoing.

On Wednesday Gutierrez's lawyer said in his closing remarks: "He (Gutierrez) wouldn't choose to languish if, in summer 2013, he had been told he didn't feature in their plans."

He added: "There's no document that even hints at these exchanges in summer 2013."

Budworth, addressing the tribunal panel, said: "The respondent's (Newcastle's) witnesses are not just mistaken about this but are giving knowingly untrue evidence.

"What I invite you to infer has happened is they've found it irresistible to come up with a reason to deflect the obvious inference in this case from basic chronology.

"They've tried to come up with an explanation to deflect that inference and have failed and the tribunal should see through that."

Of Pardew's account, he said: "He tries to suggest even as early as September 2011 that this player was already not in his plans.

"The fact he was seeking to create that impression hangs a serious question-mark over the entirety of his evidence and looks like his evidence has been tailored to reach that position."

Budworth added his client was in 2011 "a very marketable asset at that time - he'd had a successful World Cup for Argentina".

He said: "Mr Pardew gives suspicious evidence in trying to say he was already not in his plans as far back as 2011."

The lawyer also said that it was Gutierrez's case the source of an alleged decision for the player being sidelined lay with Ashley, although the club's owner has not been asked to give evidence.

Budworth added: "If pressed to the true source of the decision, we would say on the evidence that is where it appears to lie."

Sean Jones QC, for Newcastle, said that the club had not broken any rules in their dealings with the player.

He added: "We accept we're subject to discrimination law, but in assessing the business we're in, and the need for a squad, we are in a unique set of circumstances.

"We need people who are good and fit and regularly available."

Jones said that at the time Gutierrez left the club, Newcastle were in a Premier League relegation dogfight and that it was not reasonable to be spending over £2million in wages on a player.

He added: "We know the club had its back against the wall, fighting relegation, doesn't know which league it'll be in (next season), how much money it'll have, which players will stay, what vacancies it will have, and how much money it can pay.

"Against that, can you guarantee a player to stay in squad on his existing terms and conditions? We say it isn't reasonable."

Jones went on: "This is a £2.5million commitment to a player who simply might not feature moving forward in circumstances where the then manager was saying 'I don't want him'.

"It's not reasonable to expect a club, at that point, to take him on."

Press Association

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