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Football agent Willie McKay is warned about being in contempt of court at Emiliano Sala inquest

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Football agent Willie McKay is warned about being in contempt of court after appearing to threaten a barrister and refusing to answer questions about the use of his own private plane at the inquest into Emiliano Sala’s tragic death

  • Football agent Willie McKay was warned over contempt of court at the inquest into the death of Emiliano Sala
  • McKay entered into fiery exchanges with lawyers after becoming irritated with their questions
  • At one point McKay appeared to threaten a barrister, saying he was ‘happy to meet you later’ 
  • McKay flared up when lawyers questioned why he did not use his own private plane to transport Sala from Nantes to Cardiff
  • Sala instead flew on another plane that ultimately crashed, killing both him and the pilot in January 2019


Football agent Willie McKay was warned he risked being in contempt of court, after becoming so irritated with questions at Emiliano Sala’s inquest that he appeared to threaten a barrister and said he would not answer questions.

In a fiery courtroom exchange at the inquest in Bournemouth, McKay was asked questions about why he did not use his own private plane to fly Sala from Nantes to Cardiff City when he took issue with the lawyer putting the questions.

It was put to him that he could not use his private plane, the King Air, which was a safer aircraft, because the company servicing it had refused to release it until he paid a bill. Instead the player was flown in a Piper-Malibu plane which crashed after both he and probably the pilot were poisoned by carbon monoxide in the cabin and cockpit.

Football agent Willie McKay was warned over contempt of court at the inquest into Emiliano Sala's tragic death

Football agent Willie McKay was warned over contempt of court at the inquest into Emiliano Sala’s tragic death

Sala was due to join Cardiff from Nantes but his plane over the UK crashed in January 2019

Sala was due to join Cardiff from Nantes but his plane over the UK crashed in January 2019

But Mr McKay denied the allegation about his plane – stating the King Air was in need of repairs for its propellers.

He said: ‘This is going to discredit me – I came here in good faith. I’m not going to answer any more of your questions.’

Dorset senior coroner Rachael Griffin promptly warned him that he would be in contempt of court if he refused to cooperate.

McKay’s anger with the line of questioning also led him to threaten the Sala family barrister Mathew Reeve, whom he told: ‘I’m happy to meet you later and you can ask me questions then.’ 

The inquest jury heard claims that McKay was too ‘distracted’ by the sale of his own plane to pay proper attention to the safety of Sala on the day of the crash, three years ago.

McKay refused to answer questions over the use of his own private plane to transfer Sala to Cardiff from Nantes

McKay refused to answer questions over the use of his own private plane to transfer Sala to Cardiff from Nantes

Mr Reeve read out exchanges between Mr McKay and plane operator David Henderson, who organised the fateful flight, in which they appeared to be discussing the sale of the King Air. 

In one email sent on the day of the crash, Henderson sent a picture of the aircraft to McKay, showing that the wheel had been removed, with the subject: ‘Wheel gone??’ 

Mr Reeve suggested that the company servicing the McKays’ family plane took the wheel off so it could not leave the airfield. 

He put it to McKay that the company refused to release the aircraft until he paid outstanding bills. McKay responded: ‘I didn’t owe a penny.’ 

Mr Reeve said McKay and Henderson were ‘distracted’ from Sala’s safety by financial negotiations. The barrister said: ‘Both yours and Mr Henderson’s concern was about the release and sale of the aircraft in the run-up to the accident. You spent the last few hours before the (crash) haggling over how to remove your aircraft.’ 

Sala flew instead in a Piper-Malibu plane (pictured) that crashed into the English Channel

Sala flew instead in a Piper-Malibu plane (pictured) that crashed into the English Channel

McKay also denied discussing safety concerns about the Piper-Malibu plane over the phone after its outward journey to Nantes, two days before the crash. 

Mr Reeve read out an email sent by McKay to Sala and the then Cardiff manager, Neil Warnock, weeks before the transfer. 

McKay wrote in the email: ‘We’re not interested in looking after your personal interests. Baby-sitting is not our market. If you were not a footballer they wouldn’t care about you. They only care about money because that’s all we care about. That’s why we work for the clubs. No emotion, simple business.’

The coroner repeatedly intervened as Mr McKay responded angrily to Cardiff City’s lawyer, Cathryn McGahey. 

When asked whether he arranged the flights himself or helped his son to arrange them, he told Ms McGahey: ‘Why don’t you tell me? You seem to know.’ 

The inquest continues.

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