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Ecclestone to pay £4m costs despite winning legal dispute

Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone has been ordered to pay a staggering £4m in legal costs even though he won his legal case against a German media organisation, reports the BBC.

The 83-year-old was in court to fight claims that he had bribed an investment banker during the sale of Formula One back in 2006 to private equity firm CVC Capital.

Mr Ecclestone was sued by Constantin Medien, a German media company who owned a significant shareholding in Formula One, and who believed they were short-changed when Formula One was sold, at a price they felt did not represent best value.

Lawyers for Constantin Medien claimed that Mr Ecclestone bribed German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, to incentivise him to fast-track the sale through to a buyer of his choosing, for an undervalued price. They were seeking £85m in compensation.

Mr Gribkowsky was jailed in Germany in 2012 after being found guilty of accepting $44m in bribes from Mr Ecclestone. Mr Ecclestone claimed the payments were to buy the banker's silence to ensure UK tax authorities did not investigate him.

At trial the judge found that Mr Ecclestone had indeed bribed Mr Gribkowsky. However, he ruled that Constantin Medien could not be awarded damages, as there was no connection between the bribes paid and the value of the sale.

Mr Ecclestone was described by the trial judge Mr Justice Newey, as an 'unreliable witness'.

"Even... making allowances for the lapse of time and Mr Ecclestone's age, I am afraid that I find it impossible to regard him as a reliable or truthful witness," he said.

The BBC reports that, yesterday, Mr Justice Newey decided that despite the general principle that losers in cases should pay the winner's legal costs, in this case Mr Ecclestone's staggering £8.5m legal bill would be split equally between Mr Ecclestone himself and his opponents.

Mr Ecclestone will next face a criminal trial in Germany over the payments made to Mr Gribkowsky.