Celebrity chef Marco Pierre-White has been branded a 'dishonest idiot' by a judge and left with a £500,000 legal bill after losing a High Court battle with two former business associates, reports The Independent.
Pierre-White, famously known for his fiery temper, had taken two former business partners, Andrew Parton and Peter Featherman, to court, after claiming that he had lost out on shares worth around £175,000 relating to the running of gastropub, 'The Yew Tree', in Highclere, near Newbury, Berkshire.
The dispute centred on the use of Pierre-White's name in association with the pub, which for years was called 'Marco Pierre-White's Yew Tree Inn'.
Pierre-White claimed that the use of his name was conditional upon him receiving a third-share of the ownership of the restaurant, which undoubtedly benefitted from attracting many diners keen to sample food from the man who was the youngest British chef to be awarded three Michelin stars, at the age of 33.
However, his associates claimed that the share agreement was conditional on Pierre-White agreeing to allow them to use his name under licence without charge and that as Pierre-White had never granted them the licence they were not obliged to hand over the shares.
The dispute resulted in Pierre-White's name being removed from the pub in 2011. The former owners claim the loss of Pierre-White's name resulted in a drop in trade and left them with no option but to sell.
Pierre-White claimed that the pair had frozen him out of ownership of the pub in 2008, when shares were reorganised, and then refused to pay to use his name for the venture, for which he would normally charge £50,000 up front and 5% of future turnover.
Dismissing his claim High Court judge Mr Justice Morgan said he found Pierre-White to be an unreliable witness, saying his evidence was 'reconstruction, not recollection' and branding him a 'wealthy idiot'.
"Mr White has been a bit of an idiot. It may be he has been a dishonest idiot on top. He is a wealthy man. He brought utterly misconceived proceedings," he said, whilst ordering Pierre-White to pay the costs for his opponents.
Lawyers told the court that costs amounted to hundreds of thousands of pounds, with many estimating the total cost of the legal action to Pierre-White to be around £500,000 when all bills are settled.