Pompey fan nearing bankruptcy after winning free speech court battle

Fratton Park

A loyal supporter of Portsmouth Football Club could soon be going completely broke in similar fashion to his beloved football club.

Pompey fan Micah Hall has admitted that he faces “bankruptcy soon” if Kuala Lumpur financier Pascal Najadi doesn’t pay the legal costs for the defamation case that he brought against him.

Hall who has already sold his house and declined a lucrative job in the Philippines is likely to have to find £50000 himself if Najadi, who is hiding in Moscow after the assassination of this father, doesn’t cough up the cash.

Mike said: “It’s over £50,000. I’ve had a lot if friends help me out so I’ve already collected about £20,000 and I’ve paid a whole bunch of disbursements.

“With my new lawyers there is still £50000 outstanding. Pascal has disappeared to Moscow where he’s sitting refusing to correspond with anybody.

“Because I got my lawyers on no win no fee that relies on them being able to recoup the costs from him, but because they can’t get anything from him that means I’m still liable for it.

“I didn’t instigate the case, I won I won it but I’m still on the hook for £50000.“

Just over a year ago before the Pompey Supports Trust gained control of the club Mike Hall was doing some investigative work, like any concerned fan would, into the people and organisation that wanted to gain control of the club.

At the time he was publishing his findings in a blog on the Pompey section of fansnetwork.co.uk. This particular piece was just one of a few blogs that Micah posted onto the site and it investigated the people who were behind Keith Harris’ takeover bid.

Pascal Najadi had claimed that his was the money behind Harris’ consortium, therefore Micah felt obliged to delve into his background and find out if he really had the means to get Pompey back onto a stable financial footing.

What Mike found and what he posted in the blog was that Najadi seemed to have a decent financial reputation, despite his father being imprisoned for seven years for bank fraud. The major concerns were that Pascal had connections with people who Pompey had dealt with in the past and didn’t want to deal with again.

Said Micah: “Pascal Najadi was the guy who was meant to be the money behind the Keith Harris bid and indeed in his legal correspondence with me he said he was the soul financier of the deal.

“So all the way through I think that part of the feature of it was that they were all contradicting each other and what they said in public. He then issued us with legal threats over what was a very anatine blog.”

Mike received a writ from Najadi’s lawyers, Mishcon de Reya, on the Friday after the PST had won the case to own the football club. Hall who was one of the founding members of the supporters trust, and fought for ownership alongside his fellow members. But the battle that he was about to face now was one that would change his and his family’s lives.

Mike rebutted to allegations of defamation that Najadi’s lawyers made on the grounds that what he said in the blog was “fair comment”. What Pascal and his legal team didn’t realise was than Micah had got a no-win no-fee lawyer and was prepared to fight them every step of the way.

In June last year Hall got the case thrown out of court after Mishcon de Reya told the court they would not represent Najadi any longer. Thus Najadi is now liable for all the costs that allowed the case to start in the first place.

What makes Micah’s case even more gut wrenching is the fact that a few months later a new defamation law was passed that wouldn’t have allowed Pascal to file legal proceedings against him.

“The new defamation law means he would’ve had to proved that he had a substantial interest in this country and a substantial reputation to defend. He had neither.

If he had somehow could bring action he would have had to pay security of costs of around £100k, which would be put it in an escrow with his lawyers to pay my costs if he loses.“

Despite all of this Micah remains upbeat especially as Pompey recent form on the pitch has improved dramatically winning the last 5 games on the spin, and also he believes the club is in the best state it’s been in his lifetime.

“We’ve actually got people running the club that care about it now. We’re investing money in starting to build infrastructure again like a new training ground for example.

“Once we get all that sorted the football side will eventually come. There’s no upper ceiling on the possibility of achievement at Pompey, which is why so many lunatics and gamblers have tried to buy us or have succeeded in buying us in the past.”

Hall admits that if he could go back he would really have put the boot into Pascal, and gone into much more depth about some of his more suspicious connections.

He said: “If I could go back I would’ve written a much tougher blog, and had my satisfaction out of it because what I wrote was far to nice for him.

“We did take it down but it can still be read because I won the case and I can put it back up if I want to. It didn’t say anything bad some people have said it’s the nicest thing I’ve written.

There is quite often a risk when delving into the on-goings of clubs who are staring down the barrel of the financial shotgun. Leeds bloggers found this is with Ken Bates, and Birmingham City and Coventry fans are likely to risking similar things if they publish online about their clubs issues.

Micah Hall stood up to the millionaire bullies who tried to silence his free speech, but now his bank balance is going to pay for it.

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