Ken Bates is facing calls for a charge of bringing the game into disrepute to be brought against him after an Ofcom ruling upheld a complaint of "unfair treatment and unwarranted infringement of privacy" from the Leeds United Supporters' Trust.
The trust's chairman, Gary Cooper, has called on the Football Association to "hold Bates accountable" after an Ofcom report found he used his position as the Leeds chairman to access computer files and broadcast private information through the club's in-house station Yorkshire Radio.
Ofcom, the independent regulator for the UK communications industry, found that two separate interviews with Bates, broadcast in February 2012, "were likely to have materially or adversely affected listeners' views of Mr Cooper" and that "Mr Cooper's privacy was unwarrantably infringed".
A disrepute charge against Bates has been held in abeyance by the FA since August last year and Cooper, who has demanded a full apology, believes Bates has manipulated his authority as club chairman. The charge is being held in abeyance owing to a court case that Bates is bringing against the former Leeds director Melvyn Levi.
Bates was ordered to pay damages to Levi in a separate case last year when he was found to have harassed the former director through his match-day programme notes and Yorkshire Radio.
"I will be contacting the FA directly and asking them to look again into the charge held in abeyance at the moment," Cooper said. "This conclusively proves that Mr Bates has manipulated his own authority and his own radio station to pursue a personal agenda against the head of a supporters' group. I hope this inspires somebody, like the FA, to hold this man accountable for his own actions.
"Our concerns are for our members and for the wider Leeds United supporter base. As a customer you would hope that the club would respect our rights in the Data Protection Act. Ofcom asked me what I would like to see as a consequence of his actions and I said I will accept nothing less than a public apology in the same way that he made the comments and allegations in the first place."
In the two interviews Bates responded to criticism from the trust, which has more than 9,000 members and is formed according to the legal regulations of Supporters Direct, regarding the financial running of the club.
In the first, broadcast on 15 February, Bates said of Cooper: "I've just been looking at our computer, he's a season ticket holder this year, this season, who didn't come at all last season – his excuse to me when I quizzed him about it a year ago was 'family commitments'. Well that's as maybe, it hardly makes [him] justified or qualified to claim to speak for the ordinary fans, does it?"
During a separate broadcast two weeks later, Bates added: "I should mention the chairman, a Mr Gary Cooper; I understand he's an IT technician so he's never had to run a business and make a profit and be accountable. He didn't come to a game last season. He's bought a season ticket this year and stated that he would not be coming next year, so who does he think he is? Who does he think he represents? Who does he speak for? Nobody, except himself."
Cooper claims that he was given no right to reply and that in fact he attended more games than his customer profile suggested during the 2010-11 season, despite not purchasing the tickets himself.
"I went to about a dozen games during the course of that season," Cooper said. "He doesn't mention the seasons before when I'm attending 20 and God knows how many games per season at home. Rather than buying the tickets myself, my brother and my brother-in-law bought tickets and took me to the games."
Yorkshire Radio argued that its broadcast was in the public interest as part of Bates's reply to the perceived attacks on him . In response to Cooper's claim that he was not given the right to respond, Yorkshire Radio argued that it gave fans the opportunity to reply to broadcast material and that the station featured a phone-in programme after every game in which he could have responded.
Ofcom found that the statements from Bates on the radio "were likely to have materially or adversely affected listeners' views of Mr Cooper" and that "Mr Cooper's privacy was unwarrantably infringed in connection with the obtaining of material included in the programmes".
Ofcom considered that, although it was impracticable for Yorkshire Radio to have given Cooper an opportunity to respond because of the live format of the programme, the station did not make it clear to listeners that Cooper was not in a position to respond and Ofcom found "there was unfairness in this respect".
Bates will become an honorary life president of Leeds at the end of the season having sold the club to the Bahrain-based investment bank GFH Capital last year.