A former managing director of Leeds United has failed with a bid to overturn a costs order against him secured by a fellow solicitor in a case that involved an allegation of human trafficking.

In 2015 David Haigh applied to Westminster Magistrates’ Court to bring a private prosecution against Peter Gray, former partner in the Dubai office of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, and others for what he alleged was an unlawful scheme to lure him to Dubai. At the time Haigh was in prison in Dubai awaiting trial for fraud – an allegation for which he was later convicted.

Haigh, former deputy chief executive and general counsel of Dubai-based investment firm GFH Capital, was a central figure in the purchase of Leeds United by GFH from Ken Bates in 2012. He was detained in a Dubai police station in May 2014 following his arrest shortly after arriving at GFH’s offices, a visit he made ostensibly to discuss a new job.

Haigh’s assets were frozen by Gibson Dunn and he was held in Dubai for a year without charge. He was eventually jailed for two years in August 2015 and released in March last year.

Haigh’s application to begin a private prosecution against Gray was dismissed by district judge Ikram in June 2015. In October of that year Gray was later awarded over £100,000 in wasted costs against Haigh. The ex-Leeds MD has now failed with a judicial review bid to overturn the award, though the amount has been reduced to £90,000.

Michael O’Kane, senior partner and head of business crime at Peters & Peters, which represented Gray, said: 'We always believed that this application for judicial review was wholly ill-advised. We are pleased that the court has reached the same conclusion, and has upheld District Judge Ikram’s finding that the attempt by David Haigh to bring a private prosecution against Mr Gray and others from a prison cell in Dubai was ”wholly improper”.'

He added: 'There are interesting lessons for would-be private prosecutors in this judgment, which underlines the fact that bringing ill-conceived private prosecutions may carry significant cost consequences, even when those proceedings do not actually get off the ground.’