The Times settles libel claim brought by businessman
A joint statement in open court has been read today in a libel claim brought by Mike Ashley.
Mr Ashley sued TNL for libel.
In a judgment handed down on 23 July 2021, following a preliminary issue trial, Mr Justice Saini held that all the articles bore the natural and ordinary meaning that there are grounds to suspect that Mr Shepherd and his company, Sport Mobile, helped Mr Ashley in avoiding disclosure of potentially relevant text messages and phone records in the 2017 High Court proceedings brought by Mr Blue. In addition, one of the articles (published in hard copy and online) bore the additional meaning that there are grounds to suspect that Mr Ashley knew that Sport Mobile could have obtained his text message records while telling the court he could not get those messages. These were Chase level 2 meanings.
Following the hearing, TNL made an Offer of Amends, which was accepted.
On 2 March 2022, a joint statement in open court was read on Mr Ashley’s behalf by Adam Speker QC. He told the court that TNL had ‘published an apology and retraction and … agreed to pay substantial damages to Mr Ashley as well as his legal costs. The Defendant…. has accepted that any allegation of wrongdoing by Mr Ashley in his litigation with Jeffrey Blue are untrue.’
Emily Costello for TNL confirmed all that had been said on Mr Ashley’s behalf. She told the Court that ‘Times Newspapers Limited did not intend to make the allegations that the court found the articles to bear. It accepts that the allegations are untrue and withdraws them and apologises to Mr Ashley.’
A copy of the statement in open court can be found here.