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Former Watford owner Laurence Bassini agrees to pay damages to Marvin Sordell's agent Sky Andrew
Laurence Bassini has agreed to pay damages and apologise to agent Sky Andrew over comments he made following the sale of Marvin Sordell to Bolton Wanderers.
The former Watford owner claimed Mr Sordell's agent demanded a "substantial sum" to extend the contract of the striker at the Hornets during an interview in the Watford Observer, which was published on February 17 2012.
Mr Bassini claimed a few months before Sordell's sale to Bolton, Mr Andrew "came to see us and said the only way Marvin would sign a contract is if he [the agent] received a substantial sum of money and that was never going to happen.
"Marvin has done nothing wrong in this whatsoever but his agent wanted a fee to facilitate a new contract and he told me he would do what he did with Sol Campbell and let his contract run down, so that was that."
Mr Andrew issued proceedings against Mr Bassini and stressed the allegations implied he put his own interests ahead of those of his client.
The sports and entertainment agent, who has Frank Bruno and Campbell among his clients, believed Mr Bassini's comments suggested he was seeking to elicit a bribe or other unwarranted payment from Watford so Sordell would extend his contract.
Mr Andrew felt this was defamation of his character and "particularly damaging" as seeking an unwarranted payment to facilitate a contract would be a criminal offence under the UK’s anti-bribery laws, as well as a breach of the FA's Code of Professional Conduct.
A statement was read out at the High Court of Justice Queen's Bench Division this morning. This included comments from Mr Andrew's advocate Korieh Duodu and also Hannah Ready, who was Mr Bassini's advocate.
In the statement, Mr Duodu said: "Mr Bassini does not accept that the words bear that meaning. He states that he intended to convey that the claimant had legitimately asked for his agent’s fee in order to facilitate a new contract.
"Mr Bassini has nevertheless agreed to join in this statement in open court in order to set the record straight and apologise to Mr Andrew for what he said to the Watford Observer.
"The true position is that Mr Andrew never requested any sort of facilitation payment in relation to Marvin Sordell’s contract extension. He negotiated firmly but fairly on behalf of his client, and would have been legally and contractually entitled to a commission on any payments made to Mr Sordell.
"Mr Andrew has painstakingly built a reputation as an honest and ethical football agent, in an industry which is much maligned and criticised. He has never acted in any way corruptly in relation to football transfers.
"Mr Bassini has agreed, as part of the settlement of these proceedings, to join in this statement and apologise to Mr Andrew. Among other terms of redress, he has also agreed not to repeat the words complained of. On that basis, Mr Andrew is content that these proceedings have achieved their purpose and can now be brought to a conclusion."
Mr Bassini has agreed to pay the agent a confidential sum of money in "commensurate damages", make a public apology, undertake not to repeat the allegations and pay Mr Andrew’s legal costs.
In the statement, Mr Bassini’s advocate said: "My Lord, I agree with everything Mr Duodu has said. It was never Mr Bassini’s intention to convey the allegations of which complaint is made or to say anything derogatory about the claimant. He does not dispute and never intended to suggest that Mr Andrew put his own interests before those of his client. He apologises to Mr Andrew sincerely and unreservedly for any contrary and unintended impression that was given."
Mr Andrew said: "This is a very pleasing result and I am delighted that this action has been brought to a successful conclusion. Football agents often get a bad name and I have worked hard to ensure that all my dealings are ethical and professional. These false allegations could have seriously damaged my reputation."
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