Tour manager sues Kerrang magazine over masturbation claim

A rock band tour manager launched a High Court libel action today against Kerrang today over a claim he was caught masturbating when he should have been at work.

Mark Stickland, 36, says he was portrayed as a "sexual deviant" in a January 2006 edition of music magazine Kerrang!

He wants damages, including aggravated damages, from publishers Emap Metro, which says the allegation was true.

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The article, Filth Pigs, warned readers to "prepare to be disgusted" by the "sickest interview ever" with metalcore band Bullet For My Valentine.

It included a comment from drummer Moose about the Bridgend four-piece's tour manager on its German dates in December 2005 – a position held at the time by Mr Stickland although he was not named directly.

Asked if he had ever been caught "w******", Moose was quoted as saying: "Never, I'm too good at it, but we caught our tour manager pleasuring himself in Germany two weeks ago.

"He was in a dressing room and we just walked in and I knew what he was doing instantly, you can't mistake that sound for anything else.

"We called him Stinky for the rest of the tour."

Mr Stickland's counsel, William McCormick, told Mr Justice Tugendhat and a jury in London, the incident never happened and his client had been seriously defamed.

"It attributed to him conduct which he will say is wholly inconsistent with him properly discharging his professional responsibilities.

"What's being said is that when he should have been at work, he engaged in activity which was lewd, sexual and, effectively, he could not control his sexual impulses."

Mr Stickland, of Mansfield Road, Nottingham, was a "fairly ordinary guy who takes a quiet pride in doing his job well and enjoys the respect and esteem of friends and acquaintances".

But, since publication, the court heard people had laughed at him and called him Stinky, and he felt awkward about ringing contacts for further work.

There had been no apology and Mr Stickland would have to go through the ordeal of a public trial, his counsel said.

The publishers of the magazine, which has a weekly circulation of 70,000, deny libel and will be calling Moose – real name Michael Thomas – to give evidence.

Emap's counsel, Caroline Addy, said Mr Stickland was not named in the article and the vast majority of readers – the "14-year-old thrash metal fan from Barrow-in-Furness" – would not have picked up on such an obscure reference.

It was an allegation of clandestine and entirely ordinary sexual behaviour, which was not defamatory, and was also true.

"Moose discovered the claimant doing exactly that in the production room during the tour of Germany in December 2005 in the city of Bremen," she said.

Moose's story was supported by the fact what happened became a joke for his fellow band members and some of the crew.

Prompted by a Wallace and Gromit film, they took to calling Mr Stickland, Stinky, although not to his face.

She said Mr Stickland, happy to join in banter and teasing of a sexual nature, was not bringing the action for vindication, but for money.

The case is expected to last up to three days.




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