Millionaire given a month to pay city council £2m

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Harrogate businesswoman Jan Fletcher has been given less than a month to pay council bosses £2m as the fall-out continues from her failed Leeds arena legal challenge.

A High Court judge has granted Leeds City Council permission to pursue Ms Fletcher personally for costs it ran up while successfully defending her £40m damages claim over the way the competition to develop the arena was handled.

The high-profile millionaire’s firm, Montpellier Estates Limited (MEL), was ordered to pay interim costs of £2m in April after her challenge was defeated.

Council chiefs said “no payment or credible proposal for payment” had been forthcoming from MEL and the following month the company went into voluntary liquidation.

Last week, at the High Court in Leeds, Mr Justice Supperstone approved an application from the council for Ms Fletcher to be joined into its costs claim. He also issued an order that she pay the interim costs of £2m before November 14, pending a final decision on the amount due.

Ms Fletcher took the council to court following its surprise decision in 2008 to make Clay Pit Lane, in Leeds city centre, the home of the arena. It had been thought Sweet Street in Holbeck - a site owned by MEL - and land next to Leeds United’s Elland Road ground were the only places in contention. However, the council not only chose Clay Pit Lane, but decided to build the venue itself.

Ms Fletcher alleged she had been duped by council bosses into taking part in a sham selection process. MEL passed a resolution that it be voluntarily wound up in August.