Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Watson threatened me, claims Glenn

Sir Owen’s allegations included in High Court statement of claim over share of Warriors league club

Eric Watson confirmed in April that he had been in discussions with Sir Owen Glenn to buy his shares. Photo / Getty Images
Eric Watson confirmed in April that he had been in discussions with Sir Owen Glenn to buy his shares. Photo / Getty Images

Sir Owen Glenn claims he felt unsafe after Warriors co-owner Eric Watson allegedly "threatened, abused and physically intimidated" him the day after the NRL Auckland Nines tournament at Eden Park in February.

The allegations are included in a statement of claim filed in the High Court of Auckland.

The statement was filed by Kea Investments, a company linked to Sir Owen. It is against Watson-linked company EJ Group and GWNZ Investments, a joint-venture company that owns the Warriors.

In the action, Sir Owen's interests are seeking to recover more than $6 million and transfer back his company's half-share in GWNZ to Mr Watson's company.

The Herald has been told the statement of claim alleges that Kea and Sir Owen have been excluded from major decisions relating to the league club since February.

The statement of claim also alleges an incident took place between Sir Owen and Mr Watson on the Monday after the two-day Nines tournament ended.

"At a meeting on 17 February 2014 Mr Watson verbally threatened, abused, and physically intimidated Sir Owen to the extent that Sir Owen feared for his and his personal assistant's safety. Sir Owen was sufficiently unsettled by Mr Watson's behaviour and demeanour and he reported the incident to the New Zealand Police," a source quoted the statement of claim as alleging.

A police spokeswoman would not confirm Sir Owen had made this report.

Speaking to the Herald from London last night, Sir Owen said the alleged incident related to an agreement between the pair reached during the Rugby League World Cup last November.

Sir Owen was of the view that Mr Watson did not put any of what was agreed into practice.

The alleged altercation happened in the Mt Smart Stadium boardroom after Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah left the room so the pair could talk privately, Sir Owen said.

Sir Owen claimed he was being very polite during the meeting, didn't raise his voice or curse, but believed that Mr Watson "just went berserk".

Sir Owen alleged that when he left the room Mr Watson screamed at him and then slammed the door.

The source said Kea's statement of claim alleged Mr Watson apologised after this apparent incident and agreed to a request from Sir Owen that future contact between them would be done through lawyers.

Asked if the alleged incident was the trigger for the court action, Sir Owen said that he and Mr Watson had been at odds for 18 months.

"It wasn't a snap thing. This was the end product of it all. He wants to rule the roost on his own; well that's okay by me. He just [should] buy the shares back and off you go."

Eric Watson made a statement to the Herald late last night:

"Sir Owen's statements are inaccurate, irrational and delusional and will be dealt with in the courts."

In April, Sir Owen started a war of words with Mr Watson and senior club officials over the way former Warriors coach Matthew Elliott was sacked.

Sir Owen attacked the club for its "diabolical" behaviour in passing off the sacking of Elliott as a resignation - a move he said was "dishonourable treatment of an honourable man". He said he had no prior knowledge of the sacking, which the club disputed.

Mr Watson confirmed in April that he and Sir Owen had been in discussions "for some months" about his buying Sir Owen's shareholding.

Sir Owen said he had offered to buy the Warriors outright from Mr Watson but then offered to sell his shares when Mr Watson's valuation was "grossly excessive".


How it unfolded

November: Sir Owen Glenn claims he reached an agreement with Eric Watson which was never followed through on.
February 15-16: The NRL Auckland Nines rugby league tournament in Auckland.
February 17: The alleged incident in the Mt Smart Stadium boardroom.
April: Sir Owen criticises Mr Watson and senior club officials over the way Warriors coach Matthew Elliott was let go.
June: Sir Owen-linked company Kea Investments files a statement of claim in the High Court at Auckland against Watson-linked company EJ Group.

- NZ Herald

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