Clerkwenwell solicitor wins apology and damages in libel case

A solicitor wrongly accused by a millionaire client of charging him �300 an hour for legal work whilst playing golf has won an apology and a �50,000 payout after succeeding in his libel action.

Essex property millionaire, Colin Sullivan, 69, is facing a bill for at least �200,000 after covering his Range Rover with “offensive notices”, relating to solicitor Stewart Wiseman and parking it first outside the lawyer’s home in Clerkenwell, then outside his office in the West End.

The placards on his car accused Mr Wiseman of spending a whole day playing golf whilst handling a case for him in November 2009 and subsequently sending him a �4,050 bill for that day, charging for 13-and-a-half hours at �300 an hour.

Mr Wiseman flatly denied the allegations and sued Mr Sullivan for libel, asking Mr Justice Eady, at London’s High Court, to award him damages on the basis that his reputation has been smeared by the “extremely serious allegations of fraud” made by his former client.

During the High Court hearing, the businessman then admitted the libel.

Jacob Dean, for Mr Wiseman, reading out Mr Sullivan’s apology to the court, said: “Mr Sullivan now accepts that all the allegations he made are entirely untrue and wishes to apologise for the serious distress caused.”

After the apology, Mr Wiseman’s damages were agreed at �50,000. As well as his own lawyers, the businessman will also have to pay his former solicitor’s �140,000 legal costs.