Thursday 29 September 2011

Rio hit with £500k bill after losing court battle

The England and Manchester United star will now be saddled with paying the estimated £500,000 legal bills incurred by the Sunday Mirror in defence of the lawsuit.

Ferdinand sued the newspaper for misuse of private information after they published details of his 13-year relationship with interior designer Carly Storey, who accepted £16,000 for telling the tale of her liaisons with the defender.

But Mr Justice Nicol dismissed the case at London's high court on Thursday, and refused Ferdinand's legal team permission to appeal.

"Overall, in my judgment, the balancing exercise favours the defendant's right of freedom of expression over the claimant's right of privacy," he said.

The judge was not swayed by Ferdinand's claims that he had not tried to meet Storey after being made England captain, despite claims in the newspaper that he had snuck Storey into the team hotel.

"I did not find this answer persuasive. In his evidence the claimant said that (Fabio) Capello had told him to be professional, not only on the pitch but 'around the hotel'," the judge said.

"In the past, the Claimant (Ferdinand) had not behaved in a professional manner around the hotels into which he had tried to sneak Ms Storey.

"Whether or not he had done that in the few weeks since he had been made the permanent captain of England, his relative recent past failings could legitimately be used to call into question his suitability for the role."

Former England captain Ferdinand, who has three children with wife Rebecca, had told the judge at an earlier hearing that, "I do not see why I should not be entitled to a private life just because I am a famous footballer."

Sunday Mirror editor Tina Weaver hailed the judge's decision.

"The Sunday Mirror is very pleased that the court has rejected Rio Ferdinand's privacy claim," she said.

"The judge found that there was a justified public interest in reporting the off-pitch behaviour of the then England captain and discussion of his suitability for such an important and ambassadorial role representing the country.

"We are pleased the judge ruled that Mr Ferdinand had perpetuated a misleading public image and the Sunday Mirror was entitled to correct this impression.

"There has never been greater scrutiny of the media than now, and we applaud this ruling in recognising the important role a free press has to play in a democratic society."