Footballer Craig Bellamy is seeking unlimited libel damages from The Sun.
He claims that a story headed: “Bellamy beat up charity worker” published in June was defamatory. Now he is demanding unlimited damages of more than £300,000 from publishers News Group Newspapers.
Bellamy, who plays for West Ham, is also seeking an injunction banning repetition of the words at the centre of his claim.
The page seven story was accompanied by a photo of him captioned: “Rage â€¦ West Ham striker Bellamy” and a photo of Sierra Leone captioned: “Trouble spot â€¦ Freetown, where Bellamy was involved in a new bust-up”.
The story claimed he had committed a violent and unprovoked attack on an innocent charity worker in a club in Sierra Leone, who was helping to raise money fro orphaned children, according to a High Court writ.
Bellamy, who is the founder of the Craig Bellamy Foundation which set up a national football development league and academy in the war-torn country, says he was distressed and embarrassed by the story.
His reputation was also damaged by the words, he says. He is also seeking aggravated damages, saying the allegation that he had assaulted a charity worker in Sierra Leone was particularly damaging and likely to undermine his efforts to win support and funds for his project.
Bellamy complains that the story was published in a sensational manner, with a highly inflammatory and emotive headline, and appeared despite his agent had denied the story. His agent’s denial was buried deep in the story, and mentioned in such a cursory way it did not diminish the force of the allegation in the minds of readers, he claims.
He is also angry about what he says is a wholly gratuitous comparison with David Beckham, and the paper’s refusal to apologise or admit the story is defamatory. Bellamy is also suing over the website version of the story.