The Daily Star has failed in its bid to get a libel action brought by snooker player Jimmy White over betting scam allegations thrown out.
White, 51, and his friend John Callaghan had complained about a June 2012 article in the Daily Star. Express Newspapers asked the High Court to rule that the words complained of were not capable of bearing the meanings the two men attributed to them.
Today, Mr Justice Tugendhat said they clearly meant that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that Callaghan used insider information communicated to him by White to place winning bets, and so reasonable grounds to suspect that both men acted dishonestly to enable Callaghan to place winning bets.
The words complained of fell short of alleging actual dishonesty or other wrongdoing, Mr Justice Tugendhat said.
"There are no words alleging actual guilt," he went on.
"The dominant words are words referring to suspicion or investigation, and there are matters which are included in the article which are exculpatory.
"Reading the article as a whole, as the reader must be assumed to do, it would be unreasonable to understand actual guilt.
"On the other hand, the reader is given clearly to understand that there has already been an investigation by the Daily Star, and that the outcome of the investigation is that there are grounds to suspect dishonesty."
He rejected a submission that the words were not defamatory of White and recorded, for the avoidance of doubt, that it was not in dispute that the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association said in August 2012 that it could not find any evidence of inappropriate betting activity in relation to statements in the article complained of, or by White, and that no further action would be taken.