Monday, March 12, 2012

#Leveson Inquiry :#Eastenders -Steve McFadden – 'Phill Mitchel' off Eastenders – wins libel payout from News Group over 'assault' story

Publisher News Group Newspapers apologises to EastEnders actor over article suggesting he abused his ex-girlfriend
Steve McFadden dropped his libel claim after News Group offered to pay undisclosed damages. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe for the Guardian
Steve McFadden, the actor who plays Phil Mitchell in EastEnders, has received an apology and undisclosed damages from the publisher of the now closed News of the World over an article in the paper that falsely suggested that he was guilty of violent conduct towards his former girlfriend.

McFadden sued News Group Newspapers – part of Murdoch's News Corporation – for libel over a November 2010 article that reported the actor's arrest in connection with alleged harassment towards his ex-partner.

The high court was told on Monday that the article, headed "Nicked! Cops arrest Enders star", reported allegations that "police friends" of McFadden may have attempted to impede an earlier investigation into an incident alleged to have taken place at the actor's home in May 2010. No charges were brought against McFadden over the incidents.

In a statement read at the high court, McFadden's lawyer, David Price QC, said: "Mr McFadden has consistently denied that there was any basis to accuse him of harassment or violent conduct or of impeding a police investigation and was confident that his innocence would be established by the CCTV footage.

"He was concerned that the 7 November article may have been understood to suggest that there were reasonable grounds to suspect he was guilty."

Price QC said that McFadden, who was in court for the statement, was happy to drop his libel claim against the publisher after it apologised and agreed to pay undisclosed damages.

Brid Jordan, the solicitor for News Group Newspapers, said: "The article was intended simply to report the fact of the arrest as a result of allegations made without commenting on the strength of the case.

"[NGN] apologises to Mr McFadden if the article [led readers to understand] that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that he was guilty. It accepts without question the outcome of the police investigation."

News Group also agreed to pay McFadden's legal costs.