Equity stands to lose hundreds of thousands of pounds after being ordered to pay costs as part of a defamation hearing that ran for four years.
As reported in The Stage earlier this month, the union funded legal action on behalf of a group called the Gillettes. The members of this group claimed they had been defamed by Jason Spiller, who runs a booking agency called 1311 Events, when he posted comments about them on his website.
While the high court this month agreed that the Gillettes had been defamed, the judge, Justice Tugendhat, said they would receive only nominal damages after it emerged fabricated evidence had been used by Craig Joseph, from the Gillettes, in court.
In his approved judgement, seen by The Stage this week, Tugendhat said the Gillettes would be entitled to just 1p in damages, and added that they must pay 75% of the defendant’s costs, other than those costs “in respect of which orders have already been made”.
It is understood that Equity has already spent about £200,000 on its own costs for the trial, and paid out £130,000 to the defendants over the four-year period.
A source close to the proceedings said the union was now looking at a “big” bill in relation to the latest judgment.
In the approved judgement, Tugendhat said he agreed with the defence’s assertion that “the claimants [the Gillettes] are not the successful party – an award of nominal damages is a failure, not a success. The cure has been worse than the disease.”
Equity is expected to appeal against the decision.