Newcastle United co-owner Amanda Staveley challenges £36m bankruptcy petition in court

Amanda Staveley, who headed the Saudi-backed consortium that took over Newcastle United in 2021, has made a bid to throw out a bankruptcy petition against her. Credit: PA

Newcastle United co-owner Amanda Staveley has asked the High Court to block a bankruptcy petition against her.

Ms Staveley, who headed the Saudi-backed consortium that took over the football club in 2021, made a bid to throw out the petition against her alleging she owes a shipping tycoon more than £36 million, the High Court has heard.

She asked the Insolvency and Companies Court to set aside a demand served by Greek businessman Victor Restis last May.

The claimed figure comprises £3.4 million in principal, £2.1 million in “legal costs and expenses” and £31.3 million in interest, totalling £36.8 million, according to Ms Staveley’s lawyers.

The specialist court heard it is “common ground” that Mr Restis agreed in 2008 to arrange a £10 million investment in Ms Staveley’s business ventures, but that there was “some ambiguity” about whether this was a loan or some other form of investment.

In May 2016, the parties entered an agreement.

According to written submissions by Ms Staveley’s lawyer, Ted Loveday, his client was told to sign various other documents and instruments between 2017 and 2021, which ultimately said she was personally liable and which incrementally topped up that liability.

Ms Staveley claimed she felt intimidated into signing the documents and was left “worried for the safety of herself and her family”.

The judge was told that Mr Restis’ lawyer, John Neocleous, allegedly told Ms Staveley that the shipping magnate “was not a man to be messed with, that he was dangerous and that (she) should not cross him”.

Mr Loveday also said that Ms Staveley claimed her Huntington’s disease, which she allegedly made no secret of from Mr Restis or Mr Neocleous, affected her thinking and judgment.

Raquel Agnello KC, a lawyer for Mr Restis, said there is “no evidence” of “undue influence or duress” or of any unlawful conduct by her client and his representatives. Instead they argued that Ms Staveley was given time to look over the documents and given opportunities to make revisions before signing.

She told the court there is no evidence “beyond (Ms Staveley’s) bare assertion” that Mr Restis is a dangerous man.

Ms Agnello, also said that there is "no evidence" that Mr Restis or Mr Neocleous knew the debtor had Huntington’s, or understood how that "affected her in negotiations for the repayment of an outstanding loan.”

She said an agreement signed on 7 January 2021 “supersedes all previous agreements” and that under it, Ms Staveley is liable.

Mr Loveday asked the court to set aside the demand for over £36 million because Ms Staveley has “substantial ground for denying liability”. He claimed that the 2016 agreement decided Ms Staveley is not personally liable and provided for her company PCP Capital Partners to pay.

Mr Loveday called the interest claims and claimed legal costs against Ms Staveley “stratospheric”.

The hearing is due to continue on 19 March.

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