A Blackpool fan who had a libel case against him dropped by the Oystons said he has been paid his costs, bringing an end to a “serious” chapter of his life.
Jeremy Smith, 49, spent a five-figure sum defending himself after he was pictured holding up a doctored Gazette front page of club owner Owen Oyston, with the headline ‘We are not thieves’..
The civil case was sensationally dropped at the 11th hour in November 2016, and now, almost two years later, Mr Smith, of Newton Drive, Blackpool, said: “The fact I got the money back does not change the situation but it brings closure to quite a serious part of my life,” he said.
“It was all on the line and, at times, I thought, ‘Why me? Why did I have to get involved? I didn’t do anything wrong’.
“I saw it as a challenge and something I had to overcome. I was lucky enough to have the financial clout to defend myself.”
Mr Smith was met by jubilant supporters outside Liverpool’s Family and Civic Court after the Oystons told a judge they would be discontinuing the case, which centred around a fans’ protest at Bloomfield Road, during Pool’s Championship match against Cardiff City in 2014.
In a media statement, the club said that, after talks between Owen and now ex-chairman Karl, it was “agreed that to continue a case against supporter Jeremy Smith is not in the best interest of the club or wider support base”.
Owen could not be reached for a comment yesterday afternoon.
The original story, in the paper Mr Smith held aloft, had focused on Owen’s statements in the face of questions over the use of money the club made on the back of Blackpool’s promotion to the Premier League.
Last year, Justice Marcus Smith ruled the club had been “illegitimately stripped” of assets, and that former director Valeri Belokon had been unfairly prejudiced. Belokon was awarded £31.2m, and the club was put up for sale four days later.
A date for the latest hearing in the ongoing saga between Owen and Belokon, with the Latvian said to be still owed around £25m, will take place in London next Wednesday. It follows a recent impasse between the two parties.