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  1. Media Law
April 24, 2014

Daily Mirror joins The Sun in defending Tulisa ‘homewrecker’ story as footballer Danny Simpson seeks libel damages

By William Turvill

Footballer Danny Simpson is suing the Daily Mirror – as well as The Sun – for a story alleging he had an affair with pop star Tulisa Contostavlos.

Press Gazette revealed last week that The Sun was fighting a defamation claim brought by Contostavlos over a front-page story in the High Court.

And it has now emerged that the footballer, who played for Newcastle United at the time in November 2012, is suing the Mirror for between £25,000 and £100,000.

Both newspapers published interviews with Simpson's "pregnant girlfriend", Stephanie Ward, in which she branded Contostavlos a "homewrecker". While The Sun led its 16 November edition with the story, the Mirror promoted its version on pages six and seven and on the front page.

In a High Court claim form seen by Press Gazette, the footballer claims that the Mirror story, headlined “Tulisa is just a homewrecker.. I’m devastated”, had led to “immense distress”.

He said the claims had led to him being “taunted” by fans while playing football and on social media.

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Other members of the public, he said, would approach him in the street to criticise him and ask if it was true. He was also criticised by friends, and his family had to endure questioning from members of the public.

Simpson also said he feared the allegations would impact negatively on his football career – he now plays for Championship side QPR – and fears they will one day come to the attention of his daughter, “causing her distress and endangering or complicating his relationship with her”.

The footballer also accused the paper of being “in breach of the most basic tenets of responsible journalism” by not putting the claims to him and giving him the opportunity to respond.

In a defence statement, the paper said that it "did provide notice to his then girlfriend, Tulisa Contostavlos, with whom [Simpson] was in very regular contact".

Trinity Mirror defended the writ by claiming all allegations made in the article were “true in substance and in fact”.

Its defence, served to the High Court last month, goes into great depth about Simpson’s relationship with Ward, including detailing when the couple "had sex" around the time the article was published. It also referred to a £6,000 sofa in Simpson's home and a £1,000 pair of Louboutin shoes he bought for Ward in October 2012.

The High Court claim form was lodged on 15 November 2013 – one day less than a year after it was published. As well as suing for libel damages, Simpson was also seeking an injunction to prevent the Mirror from “repeating or publishing the allegations” made in the article.

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