Bankruptcy order dismissed by authority

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A judge has lifted a bankruptcy threat that was hanging over Harrogate businesswoman Jan Fletcher following her unsuccessful Leeds arena legal challenge.

Deputy district judge Bruce Buchan this week agreed to a request from Leeds City Council for the dismissal of a bankruptcy order against Ms Fletcher.

The authority brought the bankruptcy action against the entrepreneur in an attempt to recover the £2m she owed them in interim costs from the arena case.

Last month, however, an out-of-court agreement was reached for Ms Fletcher to pay the council its cash.

The council went to court to call a formal halt to a legal saga that has rumbled on for a number of years.

Speaking after the hearing, council chief executive Tom Riordan said: “This has been a long drawn-out and costly legal process and we are finally drawing a line under it by recovering as much as possible of public money at a time when our budget pressures are particularly severe.”

Ms Fletcher originally took the council to court following its decision in 2008 to make Clay Pit Lane, in Leeds city centre, the home of the arena.

It had been thought that Sweet Street in Holbeck – a site owned by her Montpellier Estates firm – and land next to Leeds United’s Elland Road ground were the only places in the running to secure the scheme.

In the event, however, the council not only chose the Clay Pit Lane location, it decided to build the venue itself.

Ms Fletcher alleged she had been tricked into taking part in a sham selection process but her claim was rejected in February 2013.

Mr Justice Supperstone described her evidence as “unsatisfactory” and said he was not convinced some of the conversations she repeated to the court had actually taken place.

At a hearing in October 2013, the same judge gave Ms Fletcher four weeks to pay the council’s interim costs.

No money was forthcoming, which led to the authority’s bankruptcy move.