Appeal Court slashes libel damages against Sunday

NoW: owed substantial cost from Campbell

The Court of Appeal has reduced libel damages of £350,000 awarded against the News of the World in 1995 to £30,000 after deciding that some of the litigant’s evidence was falsified.

Alan Campbell originally received the damages at a Liverpool court after the NoW had been unable to substantiate claims that he was an active paedophile.

But in a judgment on Wednesday, three Appeal Court judges unanimously condemned Campbell for "the grossest misconduct in the trial", declaring: "It is now clear that the claimant has himself engaged during the litigation in an elaborate and long-lasting attempt to pervert the course of justice, and has, in that connection, shown himself prepared not only to make and procure false testimony, but to make against innocent third parties, including laymen and professionals, the most damaging allegations of corruption and lying."

The case centred on a video depicting Campbell and another man involved in lewd and obscene sexual behaviour. The court rejected Campbell’s evidence that the video had somehow been falsified by the NoW and found that it was "genuine… and established significant partial justification [for the defence], in the form, of a highly perverted interest in boys".

In a statement, the paper said: "We hope that the Attorney General will take note of the extremely serious findings of the Court of Appeal and launch an appropriate investigation into Campbell’s conduct.

"The costs orders made by the court mean that Mr Campbell owes the NoW a very substantial amount of money."

The paper had accepted liability but said the award was too high.

lThe NoW is facing two more writs seeking substantial damages. Big Pictures photographic agency and champion jockey Keiren Fallon are both suing the paper through owners News International and News Group Newspapers for more than £100,000 in each case.

The Big Pictures writ follows a row over a contract to supply pictures of Robbie Williams to the NoW. The paper claims it bought the pictures on an exclusive basis but found they were being used elsewhere.

Fallon is suing for libel over an article on 24 February linking him to Chinese Triads. The paper published details of a report from the Hong Kong Jockey Club which detailed Fallon’s suspected contacts with a Chinese Triad member. It ran the story over a spread quoting widely from the report.

The NoW is to defend both actions.


By Jean Morgan

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