Golfers in cheat war: Champ is kicked out of club after email accuses him of unfair play. Now he's suing rival for libel
- Wealthy businessman Kenneth Marshall, 50, claims he was expelled from Wimbledon Park golf club after an anonymous e-mail branded him a cheat
- He is now suing Jeff Clargo who he says is responsible for the message which was sent to hundreds of members
- The e-mail claimed that Mr Marshall pretended to have cancer, stormed off the course when he was losing and pocketed another player's ball
By Neil Sears
PUBLISHED: 18:38 EST, 27 October 2013 | UPDATED: 20:40 EST, 27 October 2013
Thrown out: Golfer Kenneth Marshall is suing a fellow golfer for calling him a cheat
It's more than a hundred years old, and so exclusive that even celebrities are forced to go on the waiting list for membership.
But now a bitter libel row is threatening the tranquil atmosphere of Wimbledon Park golf club, with a six-time club champion suing another member over allegations of cheating.
Wealthy businessman Kenneth Marshall, 50, claims he was expelled from the club after being branded an ‘odious foul-mouthed cheat’ who pretended to have cancer.
He says he ended up being compared to the ‘despicable and villainous’ James Bond villain Goldfinger, who tries to cheat his way to victory on the golf course against Sean Connery’s 007.
Mr Marshall is now suing Jeff Clargo, 61, who he claims was responsible for an anonymous email sent to hundreds of members as part of a successful campaign to kick Mr Marshall out.
Mr Clargo is fighting the case, due to be heard at London’s High Court. It could leave him with massive costs and a damages bill of up to £50,000.
The golf club, in South-West London, was founded in 1898, and has hosted star players including Colin Montgomerie.
When television celebrities Ant and Dec – Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly – asked to join, they were reportedly told to sign on the waiting list. Mr Marshall, part-owner of a multi-million-pound wholesale grocery business, had been a member of the club for several years. He plays off a handicap of four, and lives nearby in a £1.2million house.
According to papers lodged at the High Court, the email, called ‘Kenny Marshall Petition’, was sent last November – shortly before the club’s board was due to conclude an existing investigation into allegations of cheating against Mr Marshall.
A fortnight later, on November 29, his membership was cancelled by the board, as a ‘direct consequence’ of the allegations in the email, the papers say.
The email read: ‘Most of us are sick and tired of the controversy permanently surrounding Kenny Marshall and his continual loud-mouthed, abusive and foul language and appalling behaviour … Now he has been caught red-handed CHEATING and it is time he should go.’
It detailed several allegations under the heading ‘Reasons he must go’, including:
- ‘Claiming to have had cancer’
- ‘The famous Horst Jeager affair’ in which fellow member Mr Jeager ‘saw Marshall kick a ball out of the rough’ – instead of using his club to get it out – and Mr Jeager then ‘stormed into the pro shop to report the incident’
- In a friendly game Mr Marshall ‘was caught flipping his marker some two feet nearer the hole’
- When playing for Wimbledon Park in a match at the prestigious RAC club he ‘walked off the course’ at the 21st hole in a 36-hole game after ‘playing badly’, ‘leaving his playing partners stranded’. He was seen playing at Wimbledon Park the same afternoon, and ‘for this he was banned from the RAC for 12 months’
- ‘THE LAST STRAW’ – while playing in a tournament against a fellow member, Mr Marshall ‘deliberately pocketed’ the other man’s ball.
Ready to fight: Jeff Clargo with his wife Madeleine, his decision to fight the case could leave him with massive costs and a damages bill of up to £50,000
The email concluded: ‘In how many of his “victories” has he cheated? It is time we rid ourselves of this extremely odious, dangerous, vindictive, manipulative and malicious person.
‘He has brought Wimbledon Park golf club into disrepute too often. Marshall is a disgrace to the club and does not deserve to be a member.’
Mr Marshall claims Mr Clargo admitted to having written the email when the club manager pointed out it had been sent from a computer in South Africa – where Mr Clargo, a former director of a kitchen firm, has a second home.
He claims he deserves damages for the ‘organised conspiracy’ against him, and genuinely has had cancer.
And the legal papers say ‘the association of the claimant with the despicable villainous character of Auric Goldfinger has heaped further embarrassment on him’.
Mr Marshall is also seeking an injunction preventing Mr Clargo from repeating the attacks.
Both men refused to comment last night.
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