Pie-eating row spreads over into TV court

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A row over Wigan’s famous World Pie-Eating Championships is to be settled in a TV courtroom.

Past winner Barry Rigby will do battle with pub chief and tournament organiser Tony Callaghan in a none-too-serious spat on daytime law show Judge Rinder over whether he should have won the 2014 crown.

Barry Rigby seals victory in the 2014 contest

Barry Rigby seals victory in the 2014 contest

In controversial circumstances, it was not awarded to him after a mix-up with the pies eaten by the contestants.

So the Hindley 42-year-old decided to seek this unusual and very public route to justice in front of the television cameras.

The quarrel all started when the wrong pies were delivered to the contest, which is held annually in December at Harry’s Bar in Wigan town centre.

Tony asked his chef at the Raven to specially make the pastry delicacies but in a bizarre cock-up, they were sent to a divorce party at another of his pubs while the ones delivered to the competition entrants were much bigger and far more difficult to wolf down.

The contests went ahead but Tony decided to declare the event null and void and, despite posing with the trophy, Barry was not awarded the title.

“They approached me and I thought why not,” said Barry, who also won the title in 2009.

“I was a little bit upset not to be declared the winner as it was a fair contest.

“Tony gave his defence about the pies being wrong. It’s all fun and games but I did want to sort it.”

Tony, who runs the InnTheBar chain which operates pubs right across Wigan, says he was surprised to be roped into fight his corner.

A year had already passed since the event with Barry entering and losing last year’s contest to Martin Appleton Clare, another former victor.

“There were no complaints on the day,” said Tony.

“Barry felt he should have won the title and he was claiming £150 for loss of revenue because he felt it gave him celebrity status whereby he did previously magazine interviews and he went on TV in Australia.

“He felt I deprived him of all this and of all future earnings and celebrity status. My defence was the pies weren’t regulatory sized pies. I did continue but declared it nul and void and the reason I did that was we had a lot of big, burly lads there and my concern was if I cancel it they might batter me!”

The programme has now been recorded and will be broadcast in the coming weeks but both parties are keeping the result close to their chests.

But Tony said: “I had to defend the case with Judge Rinder. It was a serious thing but equally I think it will be very good television.

“The audience they get on this is about 1.6 million so it’s the biggest daytime show that’s showed all over the world - it can’t do us any harm!”

And with everything all sorted, is it a case of gravy under the bridge or has it left a raw taste in the mouth?

“There’s no animosity whatsoever,” added Tony with Barry confirming he’ll be back for the 2016 contest.