An Ilkley businessman and former executive chairman of the now defunct JJB Sports chain took out £3 million in loans from two other well-known retail figures when he was heavily in debt, “possibly due to gambling”, a jury has heard.
Sir David Jones has gone on trial accused of making false statements to the market in relation to two £1.5 million loans from Newcastle United owner and Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley and also from Dave Whelan – the founder of JJB Sports, who subsequently left the business.
But the jury of seven women and five men at Leeds Crown Court yesterday only heard a few opening remarks from prosecutor Miranda Moore QC before the case had to be adjourned due to Sir David’s medical condition.
Judge Guy Kearl QC explained to the jury at Leeds Crown Court that the businessman has Parkinson’s disease and this meant that, at times, he would not be able to follow the case and proceedings would have to be adjourned.
Before the judge intervened, Miss Moore told the jury that Sir David was a well-known figure in the retail industry and had been given “much acclaim, quite rightly, for turning around the fortunes of Next”.
Miss Moore explained that the charges faced by the businessman relate to a time when he became executive chairman of JJB in 2009.
She said Sir David was appointed by a board who must have thought he would be a “good man at the helm”.
“He was a man respected in the industry – well known as a retailer of good repute,” she said.
The prosecutor told the jury: “Unfortunately, what the board of JJB did not know was that Sir David Jones was heavily in debt, possibly due to gambling, and he would, just after his appointment, take out substantial loans from two people who could be regarded as JJB competitors.”
Miss Moore only got 20 minutes into her opening statement before Sir David needed a break for medication.
Judge Kearl said: “As you know, Sir David Jones suffers from Parkinson’s disease. There will be times when he’s simply unable to follow the course of proceedings.
“When that happens, it’s not right, it’s not fair, it’s not proper to continue the trial at this stage.
“I emphasise, this is not his fault. It is the fault of the condition he has.”
The judge explained to the jury how the businessman’s involuntary movements, which were obvious as he sat in court, were a symptom of Parkinson’s.
He also told the jury the court would be sitting exceptionally short hours to allow for the management of Sir David’s condition.
Sir David sat in the dock wearing a suit and an open-neck pink shirt, supported by his son, Stuart, who is also on trial.
He denies two charges of making a misleading statement, contrary to the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, and one of using a false instrument, contrary to the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981.
Stuart Jones, 39, of Bingley, denies one charge of aiding and abetting his father’s use of a false instrument.
The trial continues.