Karl Oyston, Owen Oyston and Blackpool Football Club Ltd obtained judgements yesterday in the High Court at Manchester against David Ragozzino in two actions brought against him. The determination by the court of the amount of damages and costs which he has to pay to them has been adjourned to a further hearing.
Judgement was entered for Karl Oyston against David Ragozzino in a defamation action arising out of a story published by him on an internet website relating to an account made by Steven Reed, also known as Afroman, making allegations concerning a shot gun.
Mr Karl Oyston claimed that the alleged incident was entirely false, that the story had been made up and was malicious.
As well as the matters of defamation, Mr Ragozzino had now taken matters still further and had on Saturday, in a friendly game which Blackpool played against Lancaster, led an invasion onto the centre circle of the pitch, when Blackpool were winning 3-1, which caused the game to be abandoned.
Mr Shannon told the court that the Oystons had never sought to stifle criticism or opinion from fans concerning their running of the club, or on any football matters. In fact over 27 years since Owen’s ownership of the Club the Oystons had always defended the right of the fans to express their views and to criticise the Oystons and the Club. The Oystons have always admired the passion of the Blackpool fans and it was through their massive support and the substantial investment of the Oystons that achieved the ultimate dream of reaching the Premier League. Legal action was always the Oyston's and Blackpool Football Club’s last resort and they take no satisfaction from it whatsoever.
However, Mr Ragozzino had taken matters far beyond football related matters and in a series of postings on the internet, calls, texts and countless emails aimed at the Oystons had made vile, lurid, and disgusting statements which were entirely untrue, including despicable attacks on players.
In relation to the ‘incident' between Karl Oyston and Steven Reed outside Blackpool Football Club, the court was told it was fortunate this encounter was captured on CCTV security cameras. If this had not been the case then Mr Oyston would have been at the mercy of entirely untruthful allegations made against him. However, the CCTV footage would show that the allegations were entirely false, and had been made up maliciously, and reported by Mr Ragozzino.
The court was told that in the course of his land management Mr Oyston visits farmland and carries with him a gun as part of this work. On the day in question he attended Blackpool Football Club for a meeting and removed his gun, which was not a shotgun, from his vehicle and took it directly into the club. It is not appropriate to leave a firearm in a motor vehicle.
Mr Justice Jay watched the CCTV footage. He said that it showed Mr Karl Oyston arrive and park his car outside the entrance of Blackpool Football Club. There was a short exchange of words with Mr Reed, who was there and who had been banned from the Football Club premises and had no right or reason to be there. Mr Reed then left the forecourt and crossed the road to his van. Mr Oyston then took a bag and his gun from his vehicle and walked with it directly into the club. He held the gun downwards by his side in a normal manner. Mr Reed was at this time in his van on the other side of the road. There was certainly no intimidation, or threatening, or brandishing of the gun. The story was wholly false.
The judge told Mr Ragozzino that if he defended the case he would lose it and he would have to pay a lot of money.
He adjourned for a short time. It was then indicated to the court that Mr Ragozzino consented to judgement being entered against him, and consented to an injunction being made against him which prevented him republishing his allegations. The determination by the court of how much damages and costs he would have to pay was adjourned to another day.
Mr Ragozzino was also the defendant in another defamation action which had previously been commenced against him by Mr Karl Oyston, Mr Owen Oyston, and Blackpool Football Club Ltd. Mr Shannon, counsel for them, told the court that that action involved a number of statements published by Ragozzino on internet websites which were vile, lurid and disgusting, and were entirely untrue; they had nothing at all to do with the running of Blackpool Football Club.
Judgement was entered against Mr Ragozzino also in respect of that action by consent and an injunction was granted against him, preventing him from repeating the defamatory allegations which he had made. The court adjourned the determination of the amount of damages and costs, which Mr Ragozzino has to pay in that action also.
There was no compromise whatsoever by the Oystons as alleged on social media after the hearing.
A spokesman for Blackpool Football Club said: “We are very pleased that Karl has been vindicated by this judgement. It is always unfair to be the victim of lies. It was extremely fortunate that the truth was caught on camera and that Mr Ragozzino’s malicious distortion was exposed for what it is. Mr Ragozzino has a history of malicious posts, calls, texts and emails against the Oyston family, Blackpool Football Club and its players. It was Mr Ragozzino’s malicious and unwarranted attack on our footballers that precipitated the legal action against him.”
It is important that the Blackpool fans and the Fylde Coast public are made aware of the facts.