Hackney Empire
Hackney Empire
© Matt Humphrey

A long-running legal battle between Hackney Empire and insurance company Aviva has finally been resolved, meaning the east London venue can clear a £1.1million loan from Hackney-born businessman Lord Alan Sugar.

The venue's troubles began a decade ago, when the building firm employed for its refurbishment - Sunley Turriff Construction Ltd - went bust, leaving over £1m of work left to be done and subcontractors unpaid.

Lord Sugar was born in Hackney
Lord Sugar was born in Hackney
© bisgovuk
The guarantor on the contract, Aviva, then called Norwich Union, refused to pay up on its £1.1m bond, with the insurance giant citing a number of technical defences.

But Lord Sugar stepped in to cover the cost to enable Hackney Empire to take on the insurer, a battle it finally won this week.

Clarie Middleton, chief executive of the venue, said: "This win against Aviva is of enormous significance to Hackney Empire and sets the seal on a new chapter in the organisation's history.

"We would like to thank Rupert Choat at CMS Cameron McKenna and David Thomas QC for their tremendously skillful and determined handling of the case; and also Lord Sugar for his consistent generous support of the Empire and the litigation process."

Solicitor Rupert Choat added: "This was a David-versus-Goliath battle but we had a giant of our own in the shape of Lord Sugar."

He said the case only happened because of no-win, no-fee, which new rules will prevent in future.