A businessman has been sentenced to prison for contempt of court after failing to turn up to a High Court battle with litigation funder Therium Capital Management.

Guy Brooke left the UK after Therium, which claimed it was due €4m (£3.8m) from him, launched legal proceedings in the Commercial Court in April this year.

In a decision handed down on Friday, Justice Andrew Popplewell jailed Brooke for 21 months after finding him in contempt of court.

According to the judgment, Therium lent Brooke money in 2011 to fight a case related to a telecoms company in Holland, Cable Plus BV, of which he was a former director. 

Brooke won the case but was awarded only £3.4 million, significantly lower than the £28 million he had originally claimed.

Therium said it was owed €4m, representing a stake of the original claim rather than a portion of the amount Brooke was finally awarded.

Sentencing Brooke in his absence, Popplewell referred to an article in The Sunday Times newspaper published in September this year.

The article, Popplewell said, was accompanied by an image of Brooke ‘apparently in good health’, and was evidence that he had ‘lied to the court about being medically unfit to attend’ court.

The article also quotes Brooke as having said ‘it’s our money. For €4m I can take a few problems, you know. It’s not a bad reward. They’ll just have to put up with it.’

In the judgment Popplewell added: ‘What is clear from Brooke’s conduct of these contempt proceedings, and from what he said as reported in The Sunday Times article, is that at the moment he is bent upon preventing Therium receiving any part of the claim proceeds’.

The most serious of the contempts, Popplewell said, were that Brooke caused the claim funds to be transferred out of an account in the island of Curaçao, 'failed to procure that Cable Plus paid those proceeds into court, and failed to tell Therium where the proceeds were'.

According to the judgment, Brooke said the proceeds from the case were beyond his reach because the director of his Caribbean company had moved them elsewhere.

Last year, the Gazette reported that Therium had pledged £200m to meet the costs of large-scale commercial litigation around the world.

Therium said its fund was the largest single investment in litigation funding to date.