Chef White gets bill for court loss

Marco Pierre White faces a massive legal bill

Marco Pierre White has been left with a legal bill for hundreds of thousands of pounds after losing a High Court fight with two former business partners.

The celebrity chef said he was out of pocket because Andrew Parton and Peter Featherman had breached an agreement relating to the running of The Yew Tree restaurant in Highclere near Newbury, Berkshire.

He said he had lost out on shares worth about £175,000 and claimed damages. But a judge dismissed his claim - following a High Court hearing in London - and said Marco must pay all the costs of the case.

Mr Justice Morgan said the chef had not been "honest" - and he questioned his "intelligence" in bringing the claim. Lawyers told the court that legal costs amounted to hundreds of thousands of pounds - and later estimated that the chef could be left with a bill for as much as £500,000.

The judge had been told that the case centred on a dispute over whether an agreement had been conditional on Marco's name being associated with The Yew Tree - a 17th-century inn. Mr Parton and Mr Featherman said a condition was that his name could be used. The chef said ''no such pre-condition'' was agreed.

Mr Justice Morgan ruled against Marco after hearing evidence earlier this month. He said Mr Parton and Mr Featherman had been "reliable" witnesses - but Marco had not.

Lawyers had outlined arguments in written submissions. Papers described Marco as a ''well-known celebrity chef and restaurateur''. The judge was told that he had become involved in the running of The Yew Tree in 2005 before his name was "removed" about five years later.

The judge said: "I find that Mr White's witness statement is far more reconstruction that it is recollection. He was plainly an unreliable witness. Mr White was not straightforward. He was not honest in his evidence. I would also question his intelligence in bringing the claim at all."

The judge added: "Mr White has been a bit of an idiot. It may be he has been a dishonest idiot on top. He is a wealthy man. He brought utterly misconceived proceedings."

And, after ruling that Mr White should foot the entire costs bill, Mr Justice Morgan went on: "I think that it is not a bad thing for Mr White to face up to the consequences of his actions."

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