£40,000 damages awarded in ‘sex act’ trial

Rock manager wins libel case

A jury has awarded £40,000 damages to Mark Stickland, former manager of rock band Bullet For My Valentine, over an article in alleging that he had been found “pleasuring himself” in a dressing room.

Mr Stickland brought the libel action against Emap Metro in relation to an article published in Kerrang! magazine in January 2006 in which the band’s drummer ‘Moose’ was quoted as saying that their manager had been found masturbating: “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.”

Mr Stickland said the article meant that he was a “sexual deviant.” The defendant contended that as Mr Stickland was not named, the vast majority of Kerrang!‘s readers – the “14-year old thrash metal fan from Barrow-in-Furness” –  would not have understood the reference to the claimant. But Mr Stickland said in evidence that: “The bands I work with are all heavy metal bands and, in the heavy metal business, everyone reads Kerrang!

Emap Metro also denied that the article was defamatory and pleaded justification, but the jury found in favour of Mr Stickland and awarded him £40,000. The publisher had rejected Mr Stickland’s offer of £4,999 and an apology to settle the case.