'Power drinker' Mike Ashley tells judge: I like to get drunk

Newcastle United owner and Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley talked beer, football and Indian restaurants as he completed his evidence at a High Court trial after being sued by a finance expert.

Mr Ashley told a judge how was a "power drinker", said no-one at Newcastle had any interest in his opinion on football and suggested that he gave ratings to Indian restaurants.

Investment banker Jeffrey Blue says Mr Ashley promised to pay him £15 million if he used his expertise to increase Sports Direct's share price to £8 a share during a night of heavy drinking at a London pub four years ago.

Newcastle United owner and Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley. Picture: PA

He says Mr Ashley paid only £1 million and he wants £14 million damages.

Mr Ashley, who gave evidence at a High Court trial in London on Wednesday and Thursday, denies the claim and says Mr Blue is talking ''nonsense''.

He says he paid Mr Blue, who he called ''Jeffers'', £1 million for ''other deals'' unrelated to the night at the Horse and Groom.

Mr Ashley has told a judge how he remembers a ''night of heavy drinking'' with a group of finance specialists at the pub but cannot remember the detail of conversations.

He told Mr Justice Leggatt that he had been trying to ''get pissed and have a good night out'' at the Horse And Groom and calculated that within an hour he would have drunk four to five pints.

''It was a fun evening, drinking at pace,'' he said.

''I like to get drunk.

"I am a power drinker.''

He added: ''My thing is not to drink regularly. It is binge-drinking. I am trying to get drunk.''

Mr Ashley was asked by a lawyer how much Mr Blue had drunk.

''He would never have been able to keep up,'' said Mr Ashley.

''He's a lightweight when it comes to drinking.''

Mr Ashley says Mr Blue's claim left him incredulous.

''It was a heavy night of drinking,'' he has said.

''I find it incredible that Mr Blue is actually suggesting that I made a binding agreement for £15 million.

''It's nonsense.

''If I did say to Mr Blue that I would pay him £15 million if he could increase (Sports Direct's) share price to £8, it would be obvious to everyone, including Mr Blue, that I wasn't being serious.''

Mr Ashley answered many questions relating to Sports Direct but rarely referred to Newcastle when giving evidence.

He told the judge: "They are really not interested in my opinion on football."

Mr Ashley was also asked about a meeting at an Indian restaurant which he said he could not recall.

He told the judge: "I normally can remember ... Indian restaurants because you tend to rate them."

The trial is due to end on Wednesday.

Lawyers expect Mr Justice Leggatt to deliver a ruling later in the year.

- PA


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