NoW Eastenders actor arrest story prompts libel payout

Eastenders actor Steve McFadden (who plays Phil Mitchell) has accepted undisclosed libel damages over a 2010 News of the World story which reported his arrest in relation to “alleged harassment to cause violence”.

The November 2010 story was headlined: “Nicked! Exclusive: Cops Arrest Enders Star.”

During a High Court hearing this morning when the settlement was confirmed, a lawyer for McFadden noted that he was not charged with any offence and told Mr Justice Tugendhat that News of the World publisher News Group Newspapers had apologised and agreed to pay the actor damages and legal costs.

David Price QC, for McFadden, told Mr Justice Tugendhat that the article in the News of the World – which closed in July 2011 – referred to an “incident alleged to have taken place” at McFadden’s home in May 2010.

The article – which was trailed on the front page and “occupied the whole of page 7” – reported McFadden’s arrest “in relation to alleged harassment to cause violence towards his former girlfriend”, said Price.

He said the article also reported allegations that “unidentified ‘police friends’ of Mr McFadden” may have sought to “impede an earlier investigation”.

Price said police closed the investigation after being provided with CCTV footage of the “alleged incident” and announced that no charges would be brought.

“This was reported in a short article in the News of the World on page 16 on 26 December 2010,” Price told the judge.

“Mr McFadden has consistently denied that there was any basis to accuse him of harassment or violent conduct or of impeding any police investigation and was confident that his innocence would be established by the CCTV footage.

“He was concerned that the 7 November article may have been understood to suggest that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that he was guilty.”

Brid Jordan, for News Group Newspapers, told the judge: “The article was simply intended to report the fact of the arrest as a result of the allegations made without commenting on the strength of the case.”

She added: “The defendant apologises to Mr McFadden if the article was understood to suggest that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that he was guilty. It accepts without question the outcome of the police investigation.”

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