Former Charlton Athletic chief executive Matt Southall has been told to pay £21,000 costs after he admitted unlawfully changing the status of directors at the club’s parent company, East Street Investments.
In addition, Southall was ordered not to use ESI’s authentication code on the Companies House website for 12 months.
At a remote court hearing lasting over an hour on Friday, it was claimed by a lawyer acting on behalf of ESI that Southall’s conduct last weekend, when the changes became apparent, was a ‘clear attempt’ to disrupt the current sale of the club to Manchester-based businessman Paul Elliott, which the hearing was told is still to be completed.
In a witness statement presented to the court by Southall’s solicitor, it was claimed Southall been lied to about the sale of ESI, which he remains a director of and has a 35% stake in, which was the reason for his actions.
However, this was dismissed by Judge Richard Pearce, who said the wording of a press release issued on 10 June indicated a sale was yet to be completed and this had been backed up by a witness statement provided by another ESI director, Chris Farnell, on 13 July.
All four directors removed as ESI directors by Southall, plus current owner Tahnoon Nimer, have since been restored as directors on Companies House.
A statement released by Farnell on behalf of ESI said: “ESI is delighted that a complete and comprehensive judgement has been given against Mr Southall for his unlawful actions in the removal of the directors.
“In the ruling at the Manchester Court today the judge found that Mr Southall’s actions were entirely unlawful and that there was no basis for his attempts to remove the directors or change the service.
“The club also confirmed that there had been no misleading of the Court by the directors of ESI and was heavily critical of the statement served by Mr Southall’s lawyer on Mr Southall’s behalf.
“Mr Southall did not attend court nor provide any witness statement. The judge also ordered costs in the sum of £21,000 against Mr Southall.”