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Prince Andrew's ex-girlfriend wins damages from MTV owner over 'porn star' libel

Prince Andrew’s ex-girlfriend has won substantial damages from the owner of MTV’s entertainment news website after it wrongly described her as a “porn star”.

Photographer and actress Kathleen Stark, known as Koo Stark, dated the Duke of York for two years during the 1980s.

The relationship returned to public attention last year after Stark reportedly wrote to the makers of Netflix series The Crown, which portrays the recent history of the Royal family, to threaten legal action unless there is some “historical accuracy” in how she is represented on screen in upcoming seasons.

On Friday Stark secured “substantial” damages and legal costs from Viacom International, owner of MTV, at the High Court in London after she was dubbed a “porn star” in an article published in October last year.

A story listing “dramatic moments” from the history of the Royal family featured a section under the headline: “When Prince Andrew dated a porn star.”

Alongside a photo of Prince Andrew, the story said: “This is why the Royal Family should have their own reality show [to be honest]. During a trip to the Caribbean, Andrew was seen with Koo Stark, an American lady who was no stranger to the porn scene. We can imagine Lizzy was not impressed.”

Prince Andrew chats to photographer Koo Stark, in May 1998. Picture: Reuters

In a statement read in court on Friday, media lawyer Jonathan Coad said the article was defamatory because the allegations were published to a “very large number” of readers who would understand them to mean Stark “is a porn actress who has made her living participating in films which are made by pornographers for distribution in the pornography market”.

He continued: “Ms Stark, who was at one time widely expected to marry HRH Prince Andrew, has never participated in any pornographic film, posed for pornographic photographs, or participated in any enterprise which could properly be described as pornographic.”

Viacom International has agreed not to repeat the claim.

Coad said afterwards that the false allegation repeated by MTV had “gained new currency” because of The Crown, adding: “Hopefully after the reading of this statement it will not be repeated.”

Keystone Law said the successful claim followed an earlier case in which a national newspaper paid substantial damages for calling Stark a porn star, but it has not revealed which title was involved because it did not represent her in that case.

In May last year the Daily Star published an online apology to Stark over an article that wrongly said she had “starred in a pornographic film”. The title said this was “not an true and accurate description” of her work.

Back in 2007 weekly lads’ mag Zoo agreed to pay Stark substantial damages after making a similar claim in an article.

Picture: Reuters/Neil Hall

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