'Cardozas are not the villains of the piece' say defence barristers as legal battle with Northampton borough council ends

David Cardoza - High Court Birmingham
David Cardoza - High Court Birmingham

The High Court hearing into Northampton Borough Council's claim against Cardoza family members has finished, with a judgement expected in September.

The council is suing former Cobblers boss David Cardoza, his wife Christine and his father Anthony over their part in what they say amounts to breaches of the loan agreement made in 2013.

On Friday, Judge Simon Baker heard from the defence at Birmingham's High Court.

Mohammed Zaman QC, for Anthony Cardoza, told the court the claim against his client was "highly artificial".

He also said the case was like Hamlet but without the prince because Howard Grossman, director of 1st Land Ltd, had "managed to stay out of it".

"The claim is highly artificial," said Mr Zaman.

"Anthony Cardoza is not the villain of the piece.

"Overall Mr Anthony Cardoza was the single largest personal creditor of NTFC.

"Without Mr Anthony Cardoza's support from 2002 NTFC could not have continued to trade.

"He advanced to NTFC a net sum at its highest of in excess of £6.5m.

"And, when he ended his long-term relationship with NTFC on November 25, 2015, he wrote off - even on the council's case - £4,290,048 and Mr David Cardoza wrote off £1,00,307."

Mr Zaman told Judge Simon Baker the borough council's attitude to the case "gives some cause for concern" and that former leader Mary Markham blamed Anthony's son David Cardoza for everything that had gone wrong at the Cobblers.

Emma Edhem, representing David and his wife Christina, said: "For years David Cardoza would have worked free of charge, ploughed huge quantities of money into the business and if he sought to take some of that back, to extinguish at least a small part of that debt, then the claimants want even that."

She told the court the case had only been brought by the borough council to deflect from "internal issues" and "political turmoil".

The court heard that David Cardoza was owed £2.122m by the football club and that he had taken £250,000 from it "in lieu of salary" - an agreement Mr Cardoza is said to have had with the club.

This was done in "rough" instalments, which would add up to the £250,000 over time, the court heard.

Mrs Edhem said her client would transfer money "when he needed it" and would not pay income tax or National Insurance because it came off his directors' loan instead.

This, said Mrs Edhem, was therefore of benefit to the club.

Part of the case includes the transferring of David Cardoza's house into his wife's name, which the borough council claims was fraudulent.

In an effort to convince the court the house should not make up part of David Cardoza's assets, Mrs Edhem said it was a personal loan between husband and wife - not an attempt to deceive creditors.

"David Cardoza maintains that it was a promise that he made to his wife who was much aggrieved," said Mrs Edhem.

"There was a great deal of tension between the couple arising from the fact that David Cardoza had on two occasions put charges onto the house arising from his business not from the couple.”

Mrs Edhem added: "Christina put the house in her name. She made the arrangements."

Some of the evidence put forward by Northampton Borough Council included emails sent and received by the Cardozas.

Mrs Edhem said: "When emails are written they are not written to precision and there may be things forgotten in emails many years later.

"So when [NBC] presents those emails and says there is only one conclusion to be drawn it’s my submission it’s a disservice to both Cardozas."

Concluding her defence summary, Mrs Edhem said her client "loved the club very much" and he had "put his heart and soul into it" before selling it for £1.