A supporter paid £20,000 damages by the son of Blackpool FC chairman Karl Oyston for comments on social media said he is “pleased and relieved” his year-long legal battle is over.
Life-long Pool fan Andy Grice said the last 12 months had been “distressing and stressful” as he fought for an apology from Samuel Oyston.
It’s been very stressful and tough trying to clear my name
“I wanted to clear my name for myself but I also felt as though I wanted justice against false allegations,” said Mr Grice.
“If anybody else is fighting false allegations made by owners of the club or the family, then I hope they feel some confidence in fighting now.”
In February last year, Samuel Oyston tweeted about Mr Grice’s time working at Paris Casino on Bloomfield Road.
The tweet read: “@andygrice... How come you left the casino? Or is it a touchy subject? #stickyfingers”.
This followed an incident in June 2012 when Paris Casino boss Pierre Coulon was convicted of rigging a roulette game to enable a female friend to win £500.
Mr Grice asked Samuel Oyston to retract his comment but he refused.
But in a statement on Tuesday, after a legal battle stretching back to April 2014, Mr Oyston released a statement ackowledging his tweet “would have been understood as alleging that Mr Grice was guilty of theft”. He admitted the allegation was “completely false and unfounded”, apologised unreservedly, and agreed to pay Mr Grice damages and legal costs of £20,000.
“It has been tough going, there is no doubt about it,” said Mr Grice.
“All I wanted was to clear my name and I gave Mr Oyston opportunities to apologise but he never did.
“In my line of work, professional reputation is vitally important. The types of allegation made were not only personally distressing but also had the potential to undermine my professional standing.
“I have always conducted myself with great propriety in my work, so to have to face these types of unsubstantiated and untrue allegations was particularly galling.”
Mr Grice has become the first supporter to be awarded damages by a member of the Oyston family, who have themselves taken legal action against supporters over remarks posted online.
He added: “The whole thing affected my work and my life but I am pleased the issue has finally been brought to a conclusion and I accept the apology made by Mr Oyston.”
Mr Grice now intends to rejoin the committee of Blackpool Supporters Trust, a position he stood down from to concentrate on clearing his name.