Actor Neil Morrissey has accepted substantial undisclosed damages from the publisher of the Daily Mail over a claim that he was banned from a French bar over “le binge drinking”.
Morrissey, 49, best known for his TV role in Men Behaving Badly, was not at London’s High Court today for the settlement of his libel action against Associated Newspapers.
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His solicitor, Peter Crawford, told Judge Richard Parkes QC that two articles in the Daily Mail last March alleged that he was banned from the bar near his French retreat because of his rowdy, drunken behaviour.
They said that a poster of the actor, bearing the words “Do not serve this man”, had gone up because his behaviour made him unwelcome to the proprietors and staff as a bad influence who encouraged the anti-social and offensive binge drinking for which English settlers had become notorious.
“Those assertions were not true. Most significantly, Mr Morrissey had not been banned from the bar, nor had he been drunken or rowdy in the bar.” Crawford added that the newspaper published a correction and apology in October and made an offer of substantial compensation the following month.
Crawford told the court that Morrissey complained immediately after the articles appeared and issued proceedings in June.
In August, the newspaper made an unqualified offer of amends, by which it accepted that the allegations were completely false and that it had no defence to the proceedings.
“Mr Morrissey makes this statement in court today to bring the Mail’s unreserved withdrawal of these allegations and its apology for publishing them to the attention of those who did not see the Mail’s published apology.”
The actor has accepted the offer of compensation made in November, he added.
“In these circumstances, and this statement having been made in court, Mr Morrissey considers that he has been fully vindicated and he is happy to bring these proceedings to a close.”
Later, Morrissey said in a statement: “I am very pleased to have reached settlement of my libel action against the Daily Mail.
“The paper was told before publication that the allegations about me were completely untrue but it went ahead and published anyway.
“The Mail’s response to my solicitor’s complaint took an age but the paper would not back down and I had to issue proceedings.
“Eventually, the Mail admitted that the allegations were false and damaging to my reputation.
“It proved impossible to agree the wording of a suitable retraction and apology but the Mail published its own tiny version of an apology which bore no relation at all to the eye-catching space given to the original article.
“The apology such as it was won’t have reached anything like the same number of people who would have read the original article.
“My solicitor read a statement in court today in the hope that the Mail’s apology would reach more of its readers.”