Les Mis star wins libel compensation

But actor Simon Bowman ordered to pay majority of costs after rejecting settlement offers

The actor Simon Bowman was today awarded £4,250 by the High Court pursuant to the offer of amends scheme in compensation for injury caused by the publication of a defamatory article on the Mirror.co.uk website. However, he was ordered to pay all the costs of his claim from the date that he accepted the offer of amends, because the website had previously made him offers of £5,000 and £10,000.

The leading man in West End musical ‘Les Miserables’, Simon Bowman, complained to Mirror.co.uk about an article that appeared on the website linking him romantically to Hannah Waterman. Mr Bowman complained that the article would have been understood to be defamatory of him because he was in fact in a serious committed relationship with someone else, and had been for 20 years.

The website immediately took down the article and offered to apologise to Mr Bowman. A few days later the website made an offer of amends to Mr Bowman and offered him £5,000 in compensation. Mr Bowman refused the money offer, but later accepted the offer to make amends. He asked for £20,000 in compensation. The website increased its offer to £10,000, which was also refused.

Mr Justice Eady held that the appropriate amount of compensation was £4,250 bearing in mind that this was “a bit of celebrity gossip”. Although there was “no doubt that this Claimant took the [libel] seriously and incurred embarrassment and some genuine distress”, it was a “short-lived” libel, and there was no “hard evidence” of any actual damage to Mr Bowman’s reputation.

He held that the Claimant should have his costs up to the date of his acceptance of the offer to made amends, but ordered him to pay those of the Defendant from that date.

For further details and a copy of the judgment, see the 5RB case report.

5RB’s David Sherborne (instructed by Schillings) appeared for the Claimant and Alexandra Marzec (instructed by Rhiannon James, Solicitor for MGN Limited) appeared for the Defendant.