Blackpool collects £30,000 in libel damages from fan

Karl Oyston is not a popular man in Blackpool. Credit: PA

Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston has won £30,000 in libel damages from an abusive fan.

A day after Blackpool's relegation to League Two was confirmed, Oyston was victorious in court after winning his proceedings against supporter Stephen Reed following a post he made on website Back Henry Street in June 2015.

Oyston has been the target of a number of protests against his running of the club, which will start next season in the bottom tier.

Mr Justice Langstaff in the High Court said that Mr Reed was among fans who were concerned with the way in which the club was managed.

Oyston and his wife, Victoria, had been the subject of online abuse - some of which had come from the group of which Mr Reed was part - which had caused them concern and distress, and he wanted it to stop.

The posting said that Mr Oyston entered into a foul-mouthed rant at Mr Reed in public, held a gun in such a way as to make Mr Reed believe he was about to shoot at him and had assaulted Mr Reed and put him in fear for his safety or even his life.

Judgment for Mr Oyston was entered in August 2015 and Mr Reed now accepted that Mr Oyston had not brandished a gun at him - although he maintained he had not told lies about the incident since he had given his honest opinion.

In a ruling on damages on Monday, the judge said that Mr Oyston's conduct during the incident was blameless and the untrue libel was seen by a substantial number of viewers.

Blackpool fans even had a game abandoned in protest. Credit: PA

He added that further libel had not been discouraged by an award in an earlier action brought by Mr Oyston against another supporter, David Ragozzino.

It was plain from the considerable body of support for Mr Reed when the case was heard in Manchester that a number of local people were keen to believe matters derogatory of Mr Oyston which they thought might be true - even if with more careful thought they would reject them.

"The effect of allegations such as those made in the present case appears to have been to stir up, and maintain, resentment of and hostility toward the claimant so long as he remains involved with the running of Blackpool."

The extent of the publication, the continued repetition of untruths, the aggravation of it by sending a "scurrilous" letter to Mrs Oyston, the distress and hurt caused and the need for vindication required an award of £30,000.Mr Reed, who says he is an undischarged bankrupt, was also ordered to pay Mr Oyston's costs.