Flamboyant businessman Tim Watts is set to be awarded substantial damages after suing a man who called him a “dickhead” and “money merchant”.
Mr Watts, the owner of West Midlands recruitment firm Pertemps, whose personal fortune is estimated at £35 million, took action to defend his reputation after being wrongly accused of contributing to the collapse of a building firm by refusing to pay in full for work carried out at his home.
It was at a creditors meeting of Black Country builders Kara Construction in October last year that Mr Watts’ legal representatives heard Martyn Myatt refer to their client as an “arsehole” and a “raving dickhead”.
Attempts to extract an apology and legal costs from Mr Myatt failed, and a judge at the High Court sitting in Birmingham threw out his defence and ruled that the comments were slanderous in breach of the 1952 Defamation Act.
A day-long hearing to decide damages is likely to be held in December.
Mr Myatt has been told he must pay Mr Watts’ legal costs, which already stand at £7,508.
Sara Mansoori, for Mr Watts, told the court that Mr Myatt had been given ample opportunity to retract the remarks and issue an apology.
He could have settled the matter with reimbursement of legal costs for £1,000 in November last year, she added.
Miss Mansoori said Mr Watts’ felt his reputation had been damaged after Mr Myatt, also a creditor of Kara Construction, accused him of contributing to the firm’s downfall by refusing to pay a bill in full.
Arbitration proceedings initiated by Mr Watts, of Aspley House, Tanworth-in-Arden, following a dispute about the bill, were described by Mr Myatt as a smokescreen.
Miss Mansoori told the court: “Mr Myatt claimed Mr Watts’ legal claim was crap, that Mr Watts was an arsehole, a money merchant, a monkey merchant and a raving dickhead.”
Attempts by Mr Watts’ legal team to obtain details of the defence case failed after Mr Myatt dispensed with the services of a solicitor, the court heard.
Miss Mansoori said the potential for damage to Mr Watts’ reputation was obvious, given his position as a successful businessman, an Ambassador for Advantage West Midlands and a Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands.
Mr Myatt, aged 52, of Regina Drive, Walsall, told the court he denied using any words described by Miss Mansoori.
He accused Mr Watt’s legal representatives at the creditors’ meeting of engaging in a “fee-finding exercise”.
Mr Myatt added: “This wouldn’t have come about if Mr Watts had paid the money that was owed to the company”.
The judge, Mr Justice McKenna, said Mr Myatt had stated that Mr Watts was to blame for the financial downfall of Kara Construction by failing to pay monies that were properly due.
But Mr Myatt’s defence against slander was “defective on a number of accounts” and should be struck out, he added.
Mr Myatt, who described himself as a diplomat and entrepreneur with business interests in Pakistan, Libya and the West African republic of Guine Bissau, said he would consider appealing against the judgment.