DEWSBURY-born rugby league star Keith Mason has landed a £400,000 blow to his former club, the Huddersfield Giants.
Prop Mason, 31 (right) was sacked by the Giants after a lewd picture of fellow player Scott Moore was posted on his twitter account, after the team had been out on an end of season boozing binge.
Mason signed for the Castleford Tigers after his dismissal. He sued and won an unfair dismissal case at the High Court in Leeds last month and on Tuesday a judge ruled on the costs the Giants should pay.
He awarded the player £146,000 in damages, but Mason’s payout is dwarfed by legal costs. His legal fees alone are estimated at £200,000, which includes a ‘win bonus’ of between £75,000 and £100,000 for his lawyers. The Giants will have to pay most of Mason’s legal costs and their own, estimated at least £50,000.
His Honour Judge Andrew Saffman was told how the Giants only disclosed vital documents by court order days before the case began.
These were related to who had made complaints related to the Twitter picture and details of new signings at the time they axed Mason on his 4-year £95,000 pa contract.
Mason’s counsel Martin Budworth claimed that his client was entitled to indemnity costs – a settlement in his favour – because of the club’s “dismissive attitude”.
The court heard that Mason had offered to settle out of court for £100,000, but the Giants had offered a cursory sum of £5,000.
Judge Saffman said it was “blindingly obvious” the Giants should have revealed the documents at the start. “On balance I am entitled to assume that these documents were deliberately not disclosed and, if that’s not the case, then significant efforts were not made (to find them) until the last minute.”
On Tuesday the judge ordered the Giants to pay Mason’s £146,510 damages within seven days.
After the hearing Mason’s solicitor Richard Cramer confirmed his client had been on a ‘no-win, no-fee’ arrangement which meant a win bonus of between £75,000 and £100,000 was payable on top of the £98,000 legal fees.
Mr Cramer said: “It was a resounding win and Keith has been vindicated in taking the action he did.”
Mason, who is at the end of a 12 month contract with Castleford, says he wants to remain in Super League. “It’s been a stressful time and Iím glad it’s over,” he said. “Justice has been served. You just don’t do that to people. They (the Giants) could have done the right thing but they did the wrong thing and have been found out.”
After the decision he revealed that he is going on holiday to Los Angeles with boxer pal and multi-world champion, Joe Calzaghe.
“I will go away, enjoy myself, relax and re-charge my batteries,” said Mason.
“I am still in great shape and training every day and I want to move on in my career. But first I’m off to celebrate!”