A war of words between millionaire businessmen Eric Watson and Sir Owen Glenn is escalating, with Watson claiming Glenn is "unbalanced" after he told the Sunday Star-Times Watson warned him to hire bodyguards because he would "deal with" him.
Glenn claimed he slept with a chair wedged under his bedroom door handle in fear of his safety after a stormy meeting with his Warriors rugby league team co-owner.
Watson strenuously denies the allegation, and other claims the Star-Times has chosen not to publish for legal reasons.
Watson believes Glenn is using police, the media and courts in an attempt to "restore his tarnished public image".
The angry exchange deepens the feud between the pair over their shared ownership of the rugby league club, which will be decided in court.
Glenn even rescinded Watson's invite to his birthday party.
Glenn has offered new details of his account of a private February 17 meeting between the two, called to discuss the proposed sale of Glenn's shareholding back to Watson.
Glenn gave the Star-Times notes of the meeting, which he says formed the basis of a complaint he lodged with police against Watson eight days after the incident.
In the notes, Glenn alleged an angry Watson said he would "tear my head off and shove it up my arse" and that Watson said he knew people who could "deal" with him. Watson strenuously denies Glenn's account of the meeting.
Glenn said the argument arose as they disputed terms for his exit from the club.
"He used a number of expletives and his language was intimidating and vulgar," Glenn wrote. "His fists were clenched and his eyes dilated. He came charging around to my side of the table and banged it with his fists. I stood up and he got right in my face. He was spitting and frothing at the mouth.
"He said I surrounded myself with idiots, I had no friends and that he would make my life miserable."
Glenn said he asked Watson if he had "used him" and he replied "yes".
Glenn said the "chilling moment" was when Watson "warned me not to wander around Auckland without minders. He said he had people who could deal with me. Those threats seemed absolutely real."
He considered hiring a bodyguard for himself and his assistant and "now barricade my apartment door with a chair".
Asked further about the incident, Glenn said: "I told the police later that his behaviour was extremely threatening and physically intimidating and I explained the course of events at the meeting. In the line of business I used to be in, you get used to threats and abuse. But this was something else. He seemed completely unhinged to me."
Glenn also released an email Watson sent him afterwards, apologising for his "rude" behaviour at the meeting but urging Glenn to re-commence negotiations.
"I understand you have ‘un-invited' me to your birthday function and I fully understand and accept," Watson wrote. "I take full responsibility for today's heated and unnecessary exchange. I sincerely and unreservedly apologise for the rude manner on my part."
Watson told the Star-Times his email apologised for his manner but not the message he had given Glenn. He denied threatening Glenn and said: "I have previously commented that Owen's statements are inaccurate, irrational and delusional. One could perhaps add unbalanced."
Watson said he'd told Glenn at the meeting that he and the Warriors board were concerned Glenn was discrediting the Warriors brand. "I described some of his activities with accurate, colourful and arguably insulting language. This use of the language [not the message] I apologised for via email later that day."
But he never threatened Glenn. "Owen prides himself on his ability to bully management and negotiate aggressively, his pretence in this matter is telling."
Watson said Warriors chairman Bill Wavish had written two days later to Glenn's representatives outlining his concerns, and suggested the Star-Times ask if Glenn's complaint was "truly made as a result of being fearful or was it a retaliation?" Glenn said the delay was because he sought legal advice before lodging a complaint.
Watson said he "doubted" police would be amused by a complaint he believed was designed for public relations purposes and was "baffled" Glenn continued to speak publicly and damage the Warriors brand.
"Sir Owen has on a number of occasions acted selfishly, disrespectfully and out of character with what the Warriors' board and I would expect of a co-owner," he said.
"A much higher standard is expected. My heated discussion with him was in total frustration at how he had been incredibly rude to loyal Warriors' sponsors at an event and at the damage he would do to the Warriors' brand if this and other recent behaviour became public. It was a private conversation and in no way was Sir Owen threatened. His view of the meeting and what was said is at complete odds to mine and is highly offensive."
Watson said police had done nothing with Glenn's complaint.
- Sunday Star Times