A HIGH COURT judge is set to oversee the latest leg of a lengthy legal fight between ex-England footballer Alan Shearer and a former financial adviser.
More than three years ago, the former Southampton, Blackburn and Newcastle striker agreed a settlement with Kevin Neal after claiming that he was given “negligent” advice and launching a £9 million damages claim.
Lawyers then told judge Mr Justice Leggatt, who had begun overseeing a High Court trial in London in June 2017, that the terms of that settlement were confidential.
Shearer, now a BBC pundit, says Mr Neal owes money he was ordered to pay under the terms of the settlement.
Another judge on Monday heard evidence about Mr Neal’s finances at a follow-up High Court hearing in London.
Lawyers representing Shearer told the judge, Deputy Master Henrietta Hill, that Mr Neal was not being “candid”.
They said evidence about Mr Neal’s finances should now be considered by a more senior High Court judge.
Deputy Master Hill agreed.
Mr Neal told Deputy Master Hill that, under the terms of an order made following the curtailment of the 2017 trial, he owed £200,000.
But he said he could not pay.
Barrister Gerard McMeel, who led Shearer’s legal team, questioned Mr Neal about his finances and suggested that it was “more a question of will not pay” than could not pay.
“I cannot pay,” Mr Neal, who described himself as a self-employed business development consultant, told Deputy Master Hill.
“If I could pay, I would.”
He added: “If I had the money to do so, of course I would.”
Mr Neal told the hearing how he lived in Spain and spent about two months a year working in Dubai.
He said in 2019, his “worldwide income” had been about 100,000 US dollars (£77,000).
But Mr McMeel questioned Mr Neal’s evidence and suggested that he had an “expensive lifestyle”.
“We would invite you to infer that there is probably a significant income in Dubai, and other areas of the world, about which he has not been candid,” Mr McMeel told Deputy Master Hill.
“Expensive cars, expensive flights, expensive lifestyle, supposedly funded by various corporate entities that come and go.”
He added: “It is a question for a High Court judge to determine whether there has been black and white breaches of the order.”
A barrister representing Mr Neal suggested that there was no need for further investigation.
“He (Mr Neal) has been honest, truthful and forthcoming,” said Cleon Catsambis.
“Alleged non-compliance is simply not true.”
Mr Catsambis added: “He has expressly said that if he had the means, he would pay.”
He said the “narrative” that Mr Neal was “avoiding paying” and “obstructing the course of justice” was not true.
Deputy Master Hill said she had been persuaded that the case should be transferred to a High Court judge.
Shearer, 50, from Newcastle, was not at Monday’s hearing.
He stopped playing in the top flight more than a decade ago, after making over 600 appearances and winning more than 60 England caps in a career spanning 18 years.
Monday’s hearing was the latest in a number staged following the curtailment of the 2017 trial.
In December 2019, a lawyer representing Shearer had told another judge that Mr Neal then owed £100,000 due under the terms of the settlement.
Mr McMeel had announced the settlement shortly before Shearer was due to give evidence at the 2017 trial.
Shearer had also sued pension specialist Suffolk Life.
Mr McMeel said that claim had also been settled.
A Suffolk Life spokeswoman had said the case had been settled on “mutually satisfactory terms and with no admission of liability”.
Lawyers had indicated that the case centred on a pension worth around £4 million.
Shearer had complained about investment advice he was given and said he had lost millions of pounds.
He said Mr Neal was “careless” and “dishonest”, and said Suffolk Life breached fiduciary and regulatory duties.
Suffolk Life and Mr Neal had disputed his allegations.
Mr Neal had told Mr Justice Leggatt that Shearer’s claims were “just driven by pure greed and ego”.