Ty­coon sues his mil­lion­aire brother in bit­ter fam­ily feud ... over a car num­ber plate!

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - The Agent Boot File - By Mark Howarth

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

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