The Sunday Mirror has apologised and agreed to pay £30,000 damages plus legal costs at the High Court today after it incorrectly claimed model Sophie Anderton had been subjected to a “serious and vicious attack”.
Property development consultant Ed Buxton launched the libel action against publishers Mirror Group Newspapers after its Sunday redtop published an article headlined “Sophie’s beaten up” on 12 July.
The article, which accompanied by a photograph of Anderton with the caption “Sophieâ€¦.in a terrible state” and with the sub-heading “She fears for career because of injuries”, alleged that Buxton was responsible.
Mark Thomson, partner at Atkins Thomson, acting for Buxton, told the high court: “These serious allegations were completely untrue.
“The claimant had not attacked Ms Anderton nor had he caused any injury to her face. Although the claimant was arrested following a complaint by Ms Anderton, no charges were ever brought and the police dropped any prosecution of the matterâ€¦
“Given the seriousness of the allegation and the sensational manner in which it was published, it is no surprise that the article has caused considerable embarrassment, and distress to the claimant, as well as significant damage to both his personal and professional reputation.
“As was inevitable, the claimant has been asked about the article by his family, friends and business associates and has had to vigorously defend himself, all of which was entirely unnecessary.”
Lindsay Hodgkinson, a solicitor at Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, acting for MGN apologised on behalf of the newspaper group.
Hodgkinson said: “The defendant is here today, through me, to offer its sincere apologies to the claimant for the damage, as well as the distress and embarrassment, caused to him by the publication of the article.
“The defendant acknowledges that this false and defamatory allegation should never have been published.”
Thomson said the apology and agreed settlement had convinced his client not to continue with his legal claim.