Personal injury solicitor storms off football pitch to head-butt supporter

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By Jonathan Ames on

Regulator to investigate lawyer’s park footie behaviour after he pleaded guilty to GBH

A solicitor has pleaded guilty to a spot of “Zizou”-style behaviour after he stormed off a park football pitch to head-butt a gobby spectator.

Michael Filson — ironically once the business development supremo at legal expenses insurance company Elite and now with its sister business, Legal Reports & Services — was handed a one-year community sentence and ordered to complete 160 hours of unpaid work.

Imposing the sentence, Judge Peter Collier QC at Leeds Crown Court acknowledged that the solicitor’s behaviour at a Jewish Sunday League match was “completely out of character”.

Untypical it may have been, but Filson’s performance for South Manchester in its tie with Leeds Maccabi would have potentially brought a smile to the face of Zinedine Zidane.

The former France international is infamous for his contretemps with Italy’s Marco Matterazi in the 2006 World Cup final.

While the pitch at Squirrel Way Park, Shadwell Lane, Leeds, was somewhat less glamorous than Berlin’s Olympiastadion, passions were clearly no less fierce.

According to a report yesterday in the Yorkshire Evening Post, the court heard that Filson — (another irony alert) a personal injury specialist — remonstrated with the opposing side’s supports, who were allegedly barracking one of his younger teammates.

Even — or perhaps, especially — in park football, one thing can lead to another. And just as Matterazi was alleged to have made an unflattering reference to Zizou’s maman, prosecuting counsel informed Judge Collier that from somewhere at Squirrel Way came a shouted insult to Filson’s dear old mum.

The solicitor — whom Elite describes as being “a lover of all sports [who] … still finds time to drag himself around rugby and football pitches at the weekend” — ran at one of the opposing side’s supporters before head-butting him in the cheek.

The newspaper reported that in mitigation Nicholas Lumley QC of New Park Court Chambers in Leeds told the court that Filson was extremely sorry for his actions and had written to the victim expressing his abject contrition.

Lumley pleaded with the judge not to send his client for even a tiny dollop of porridge, as any custodial sentence could severely affect the solicitor’s career.

Indeed, the Solicitors Regulation Authority told Legal Cheek that it was aware of the grievous bodily harm conviction and its investigators would “obtain all the relevant information on the incident before making a decision on the appropriate course of action, including how this reflects on Mr Filson’s delivery of professional legal services”.