One of Ireland's most well-known publicans, Louis Fitzgerald, has been accused by a High Court judge of trying to use an "ulterior motive" to take control of a Dublin pub.
A report from the Sunday Times says that Fitzgerald, who owns landmark pubs such as Stag's Head, Kehoes and the Big Tree in Dublin, was accused by Judge Robert Haughton of trying to block the sale of Café en Seine on Dublin's Dawson Street (pictured) by making a €10,000 deal to have the pub returned to him as landlord.
Fitzgerald bought the debt owed by the Café en Seine's operating company and proceeded to demand the wind-up of the company, ostensibly to recoup the debt.
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This, said Judge Haughton, this had an "ulterior motive", namely to retain possession of the pub, which Fitzgerald had failed to successfully bid on previously, losing the leasehold to the former owners of Setanta Sports. Fitzgerald then blocked the sale claiming there was issues with the subtenants and upkeep.
Speaking about Fitzgerald, Judge Haughton wrote that if the court had been "misled" into winding up the operating company, "the Fitzgerald group would have obtained possession of the premises at little or no cost."
Fitzgerald had offered the receivers a year ago €5.35 million to purchase the leasehold of the building which he is landlord of.