Tycoon sues his millionaire brother in bitter family feud ... over a car number plate!
HE is one of Scotland’s wealthiest oil barons, worth an estimated £350 million.
Yet super rich Aberdeen businessman Ian Suttie is embroiled in a petty sibling feud – over a personalised number plate.
And rather than settle their squabble behind closed doors, Mr Suttie, 73, and his younger brother David, 64, have involved the courts.
The pair, who were in business together for 30 years and remain neighbours in the wealthy suburb of Cults, became locked in a bitter war of words after a row over how to share the personalised registration plate – 21S – they jointly own.
David, a property developer, is now suing the First Oil tycoon for £20,000 for defamation and also seeking an anti-harassment order.
In court documents seen by The Scottish Mail on Sunday, he claims his older sibling called him a ‘scoundrel’ in a series of threaten- ing emails when he did not hand over the number plate.
He also revealed the argument has threatened to spill over into their social circle at curling and golf clubs in Aberdeen.
Ian denies all wrongdoing and is contesting the action.
Ian also denies harassing his brother and says that his comments were ‘plainly not intended to be taken literally’ and he was simply seeking to ensure that their agreement over the number plate was implemented.
The Sutties’ legal teams faced each other at Aberdeen Sheriff Court last week, ahead of a full hearing, which is due next year.
According to court papers, the brothers have been on bad terms for more than eight years.
In February, David won a £700,000 out-of-court settlement against Ian after a business disagreement.
As part of that arrangement, they agreed to share the number plate 21S, with each taking a three-year turn as the registered owner.
However, David would not sign it over until the cash was paid by Ian, which was eventually handed in a day after the deadline expired on March 8.
In the meantime, the tycoon sent two emails on February 23 and March 7, the first of which David claims defamed him as ‘disgusting’ and ‘deceitful’. Ian insists, though, that he was characterising his brother’s recent conduct about which he was ‘justly outraged’.
The second alleged that David had ‘plundered money’ and was a ‘scoundrel’, with Ian adding that he ‘looked forward to seeing [him] at the [curling] ice rink and Deeside [Golf Club]’ and that the number plate should handed over by the end of the week.
David claims that the messages amounted to threats, though Ian states that the ‘parties were emotional’ and he had indulged in ‘mere abuse’.
Court papers show that, on March 10, David returned to his car after an evening at a curling club in Aberdeen to find a note stuck to his windscreen with the words ‘21S NOW’.
Ian admits printing off the message and keeping it in his car in case he saw his brother’s vehicle.
David also claims on March 15, as he was talking to a friend in central Aberdeen, that Ian approached him and stated ‘I’m going to get you’ in a tone which put him into a ‘state of fear and alarm’.
David’s lawyer, Jamie Dawson, told Aberdeen Sheriff Court that a sheriff would have to decide whether or not the emails were defamatory.
A three-day hearing was set for February. David is also suing Ian’s wife Dorothy for £20,000 over allegations of defamation that she denies.
It’s unclear who currently possesses the number plate, believed to be worth tens of thousands. Ian began his career as an accountant but sold his oilfield services company Orwell Group to the US giant Weatherford International in 2001 for £220 million
His firm, First Oil, crashed into administration with multimillion pound bank debts in 2016, though he remains an entrepreneur.
In 2005, Ian was cleared of tax fraud after he told a court that he never looked at his bank balance and did not realise that he had racked up interest of £180,000, of which £21,000 was owed to the Treasury.
Dispute: A mock-up of the plate