sport

Bernie hit with 4m legal fees

Bernie Ecclestone must pay lawyers' bills of around 4m despite winning a High Court fight with a German media company, a judge has ruled.

In February, Mr Justice Newey had dismissed a claim for around 80million in damages by Constantin Medien - which had said it lost out after Mr Ecclestone entered into a "corrupt agreement" with a banker to facilitate the sale of the Formula 1 Group to a buyer chosen by him.

But, despite ruling against Constantin after a High Court trial in London, the judge had described 83-year-old Mr Ecclestone as not "reliable or truthful".

On Thursday he concluded that Mr Ecclestone would have to pay a price for giving "untruthful evidence", by picking up half of his legal bills.

Mr Justice Newey had been asked to decide who should pay lawyers' fees, at a follow-up High Court hearing in London .

The judge was told that Mr Ecclestone had run up costs of more than 8 million, and he said the "general rule" following trials was that losers picked up winners' legal bills.

But he said that rule would not be applied in Mr Ecclestone's case.

Instead he ordered Constantin to pay half of Mr Ecclestone's legal costs - and said Mr Ecclestone should pay the other half.

Mr Ecclestone was not at Thursday's hearing.

Constantin told the judge that it had run up legal fees of about 6.5 million.

A lawyer representing the company said Mr Ecclestone's legal bill of "nearly 8.5 million ... really is a fantastic figure".

A lawyer representing Mr Ecclestone accepted that "overall costs" were "high" but he said they were not "that high for commercial litigation".

At the trial, Constantin had said payments totalling about 27 million had been made to Gerhard Gribkowsky - who was a "senior ranking official" at a German bank - nine years ago at the instigation of Mr Ecclestone.

The company said a "corrupt arrangement" had been entered into.

Mr Ecclestone said Constantin's claim lacked "any merit" and denied any conspiracy.

He said he paid Dr Gribkowsky 10 million because the banker insinuated that he would create difficulties with tax authorities.

Mr Justice Newey had concluded that payments made were a "bribe".

He said they were made because Mr Ecclestone had entered into a "corrupt agreement" with the banker in 2005.

He said no loss to Constantin had been proved and therefore the company's claim failed.

The judge had described some evidence given by Mr Ecclestone, chief executive of the Formula 1 Group, as "unsatisfactory".

He had said: "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."

Mr Ecclestone is facing trial in Germany later this year after being accused of bribery. Those allegations also centre around claims relating to Dr Gribkowsky.

"Questions were asked, I answered them and I told the truth," Mr Ecclestone had said after Mr Justice Newey's ruling in February. "This case was about the value of some shares. It was nothing to do with whether I did or didn't tell the truth, or whether I was unreliable or not."

Constantin says it aims to try to overturn Mr Justice Newey's dismissal of its claim in the Court of Appeal.