JJB chief's forgery trial abandoned

Witney Gazette: Former executive chairman of the now-defunct JJB Sports Sir David Jones arriving at Leeds Crown Court Former executive chairman of the now-defunct JJB Sports Sir David Jones arriving at Leeds Crown Court

The trial of a former executive chairman of the now defunct JJB Sports chain, who was accused of forging a bank statement to disguise the fact that he had borrowed £1.5 million, has been abandoned due to his ill health.

Sir David Jones, who made his name turning around the Next fashion stores, borrowed the cash from JJB founder Dave Whelan at a time when he was heavily in debt, Leeds Crown Court had heard.

But today Judge Guy Kearl QC told the jury that the case was to be abandoned for the time being.

The businessman suffers from Parkinson's disease and the court heard that this affects his movements and how he is able to concentrate.

The prosecution case against him also said that he borrowed another £1.5 million from Mike Ashley, the billionaire owner of the Sports Direct chain and owner of Newcastle United football club.

Miranda Moore QC, prosecuting, said Sir David lied about both loans to the board of JJB Sports and, as result, the company put out misleading statements at a time when it was trying to raise £100 million on the financial markets.

Miss Moore said the businessman forged a bank statement with the help of his son, Stuart, who is also on trial, in October 2009.

This, she said, was when newspapers were about to run a story suggesting that Mr Whelan had paid £1.5 million to Sir David in relation to a deal Mr Whelan had done to take over gyms from JJB.

She said this story was "absolute rubbish" but the board of JJB was concerned about the adverse publicity as they were about to launch their flotation at a time of financial difficulty for the firm.

Miss Moore said these concerns were exacerbated when the Daily Telegraph confirmed to the firm's PR consultants that they had one of Sir David's bank statements detailing the payment to him from Mr Whelan's daughter for £1.5 million.

The prosecutor said that, in response, Sir David produced a bank statement of his own which made no mention of this transaction and convinced the board that the Telegraph's document was a forgery.

But, she said, it was the defendant who had produced the fake.

As a result of the decision to discharge the jury today, a new trial date was set for February 2015.

Sir David, of Ilkley, West Yorkshire, denies two charges of making a misleading statement, contrary to the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, and one of using a false instrument, contrary to the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981.

Stuart Jones denies one charge of aiding and abetting his father's use of a false instrument.

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