A DAD is preparing to sue his local council for £1billion – and could bankrupt them – over a missing hard drive containing Bitcoin worth £275million.
James Howells, 38, has launched a legal fight to retrieve the Bitcoin fortune that was accidentally thrown out during an office clearout.
Computer engineer James put the hard drive containing the Bitcoin in a black bag along with other parts during a spring clean.
He says his ex took the rubbish to the dump in Newport, Gwent – and James has now been battling officials for 10 years for permission to get it back.
James says he is now willing to take his fight to the High Court and seek a Judicial Review to get back his property.
He told The Sun: “It’s a bit like if you’re neighbours and you kick your football over next door’s fence – they have to reasonably give back your property.
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“They can’t instead build a brick wall over your property, which is effectively what Newport City Council has done by continuing to pile waste on it.”
James hired a legal team who have written to the council demanding permission to search the site for the missing hard drive.
He previously offered to share the Bitcoin fortune with the council if they managed to find it.
“We have tried to be friendly and get the council to the table to speak to us for 10 years but they are just too stubborn,” James said.
“It’s like talking to a brick wall. No matter how many cherries you put on top of the cake the brick wall still won’t talk back.
“We have now sent legal correspondence, a letter before claim, notifying them we are willing to go to the High Court to seek a Judicial Review.”
James said his team is pursuing an injunction ruling no one else could dig on the land and damages for the full valuation of the Bitcoin.
He said: “As of today my bitcoin is worth £275million.
“It could bankrupt Newport City Council and that’s not my goal here.
“My goal is to dig for my property in an environmentally friendly way and get my hard drive.
“The cost of the Bitcoin is not my fault. If the value goes up and up and up by the time this case gets to court we could be looking at a £1billion lawsuit.”
James said his lawyers first contacted Newport council in September last year and the council replied to say he had no claim to the property because it had been dumped.
But James says because his former partner binned the Bitcoin, she was not acting with his permission and the council should recognise this.
He is backed in his claim by a group of financiers who have pulled together a team of experts to help in the potential search and data recovery.
James believes the search would take 9 to 12 months and would be aided by specially employed AI technology.
He previously said: “I have put together a full consortium of experts in the field to refute all of the claims that the council has said it has concerns over.
“I’ve spoken to data recovery experts who have worked with Nasa on the Columbia space shuttle disaster.
“They were able to recover from a shuttle that exploded and they don’t seem to think that being at a landfill will be a problem.”
James, of Newport, says he has studied aerial photographs of the site and believes the hard drive is in a 200-metre squared area and could be 15-metres deep.
Newport City Council has been contacted for comment.