Glasgow & West Scotland

Rangers and Sports Direct judge says: 'I'm not a Mason'

Mike Ashley and Dave King Image copyright Getty Images and PA
Image caption Mike Ashley's firm Sports Direct previously lost a bid to have Rangers Chairman Dave King (right) jailed

A High Court judge in a case involving Sports Direct and Rangers has taken the unusual step of denying he is a Mason or that his wife supports the club.

Mr Justice Peter Smith's remarks came as he set a trial date for February over claims that Rangers chairman Dave King breached a gagging order.

The case relates to the retail deal between Rangers and Mike Ashley's firm.

It emerged at the hearing that Sports Direct had now dropped its £200,000 damages claim in the case.

The origins of the case go back to the retail agreement which Sports Direct entered into with the club's previous board.

The new board, which was elected last year, has said before that it would like to renegotiate the deal.

Mr Ashley won a court injunction preventing Rangers, and anyone on the new board, from revealing details of the agreement.

Sports Direct alleged that Mr King breached this injunction during an interview he gave to Sky at his home in South Africa.

'Abusing processes'

At a hearing in December, Mr Justice Smith dismissed the firm's motion that Mr King should be jailed.

When the case called again on Tuesday, the judge was critical of the way Sports Direct had conducted its case.

The judge added: "The whole way that the claimants have been conducting themselves ... shows that they have been abusing processes of the court in relation to the damages claim."

During the hearing, Mr Justice Smith also told the court that he had wrongly been accused of being a Freemason - and his wife had wrongly been accused of supporting Rangers.

The judge said his clerk had received emails responding to "various blogs" on the internet.

"One of the blogs insists that I am a Freemason, which is wrong," said the judge.

"Also, my wife is a 'life-long Rangers supporter'."

He added: "She is from Edinburgh. The idea that she would support any Glasgow team is laughable."

Three years ago Mr Justice Smith oversaw a case involving Portsmouth FC. He had told Portsmouth fans gathered at a hearing in London that he was a Hull City fan.

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