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  1. Media Law
March 3, 2010

Daily Mail pays damages to Michael Parkinson

By Oliver Luft

Sir Michael Parkinson today accepted £25,000 libel damages plus costs over claims made in the Daily Mail that he had lied about his family background.

Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail, apologised at the High Court this morning after admitting that claims made in an article from May headed ‘Who’s Telling Parkies’were untrue.

Acting for Parkinson, Mark Thomson, of law firm Atkins Thomson, told Justice Eady, the story caused considerable distress and harm to 74-year-old broadcaster as it suggested he behaved in an insensitive way towards his elderly uncle, Bernard Parkinson, and alleged he had lied about his family background.

Thomson said the article suggested Parkinson painted a ‘false picture of a harmonious and close knit family’and presented his father as an honest and well-liked man.

In a statement, Parkinson said: “As a journalist myself, I have been reluctant to take legal action against any newspaper. Where defamatory allegations have been published about me, I have always until now turned a blind eye.

“However, I decided that the Daily Mail had crossed a line by a long way, especially as they knew my views on my father and my family, having serialised my autobiography in September 2008, a serialisation which commenced with a detailed description of my love for my father and the inspiration he gave me.”

Parkinson said he believed it was ‘standard journalistic practice, as well as a matter of common decency’for a newspaper to apologise publicly and promptly when it made a mistake.

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“In this case, it should not have taken nine months nor been so difficult for the editor to apologise promptly,’he said.

“Moreover, I believe that the persistent delaying tactics of the Daily Mail were both unattractive and unworthy of a national newspaper.

“At a time when the media is seeking greater freedom, I think it is counterproductive for a newspaper to behave in this way.”

Parkinson, who was in court, said he would donate the full amount between the Alexander Devine Children’s Cancer Trust and a school for orphans in South Africa.

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