A Blackpool FC fan who was taken to court by the Oyston family over alleged defamatory comments on his website today told of the mental torture he went through for more than two years.
Paul Crashley, 38, was being sued by the club and the Oyston family for £150,000 over comments posted on the fans’ forum he ran, Back Henry Street in 2014.
But on the day a court case between the Oystons and Valeri Belokon began, it emerged the case against Mr Crashley had been struck out.
Mr Crashley, a software developer, thanked an army of fellow fans for their support and said: “There have been some dark days.
“At first it wasn’t so bad because we believed it would never make it as far as court, we were confident of that.
“But in February 2015 when the papers came through there was a realisation of how serious this was.
“We had kind donations from forum users, from Blackpool fans, from supporters of other clubs which paid for a solicitor for a short time.
“But after that I’ve been on my own.
“I had a great job, well paid with great prospects.
“I had to give that up because there wasn’t time because of all this.
“It’s been mentally very stressful.
“I’ve spent a time in counselling.
“It is a long process and although I have had help from people with a legal background it has been very difficult.
“I have a girlfriend who has never known me without this hanging over me.
“She’s never known me without the stress, the toll this has taken.
“It has been a heavy weight on my shoulders.
“I’ve been forced to work on a freelance basis, lost my financial security, I’ve lost so much.”
The Oyston’s were suing the message board for up to £150,000 over six defamatory comments allegedly posted on the site in 2014.
Official court documents showed both Karl and Owen Oyston, plus Blackpool Football Club, were hoping to claim damages of a maximum £50,000 each.
Mr Crashley, whose costs will be paid, added: “It has been a long time reaching this point.
“This started in 2014 when I was contacted by the football club over six comments made on the forum.
“We had procedures in place, the users were contacted and the comments were removed.
“However because we did not inform the football club this had taken place and it is because of that technicality the case went forward.
“The comments related to perceived poor performance of the football club, to discussions that had been going on elsewhere about money moving between different organisations.
“They might have contained language you wouldn’t use in front of your grandmother but I never believed they were defamatory.”
And he warned fans to be careful what they post online to avoid possible litigation.
He added: “I’m confident this will be the end of it. I hope now that the Oystons will see how futile these cases are.”
“I would urge everybody to be careful when they express their view, particularly about football.
“They should do everything by the book.
“But users should not fear talking about the truth and they should be allowed to have an opinion.”
Karl Oyston confirmed the legal action had been ceased in an email to The Gazette.
In an earlier statement, Mr Crashley said: “We would like to express our most sincere gratitude to all that have offered donations, help and support during this difficult and, at times, distressing period.