Southampton FC Chairman wins libel case against The Times
Rupert Lowe, Chairman of Southampton FC, has been awarded £250,000 libel damages against The Times by a High Court Jury in London.
The article, “Men Who Would be Kings Are A Ghastly Alternative”, published in August 2004, had suggested that Mr Lowe had treated Dave Jones, one of its former managers, in a shabby and utterly unreasonable manner after removing him as Manager whilst he was facing a criminal Court case. The article had been written by Martin Samuel. The Times had relied on defences of justification and fair comment.
Mr Lowe told the High Court on Tuesday that in deciding to suspend Mr Jones he had a duty to the “whole Southampton family”, including the supporters, the shareholders, the club’s soccer academy and its sponsors.
He said: “I’m used to people writing things about me which are very often incorrect and not very nice but that’s the hustle and bustle of football.
“But this was a very grave employment issue and I felt that we, as a club, had behaved extremely well in trying to balance a very difficult situation and ensure everyone got out of it losing as little as possible.
“I felt it was a real blot on my character. In football, character is important because a lot of business is done on a handshake – transfers and so on are done on the basis of trust and reputation.”
The award of £250,000 is the highest in a libel trial since Alan Campbell was awarded £350,000 in 2001 for an article in the News of the World which falsely suggested that he had engaged in sexual conduct with young boys. That award was later reduced to £30,000 by the Court of Appeal.