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Friday, October 2, 1998 Published at 15:08 GMT 16:08 UK


Film stars give libel win to Omagh

Last August's bombing killed 29 people

Film star couple Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson have won £50,000 ($85,370) damages in libel damages over newspaper allegations that their marriage was on the rocks.

They are donating the money to victims of the Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland last August which killed 29 people.

The couple sued Mirror publishers MGN for libel and malicious falsehood after the tabloid paper claimed Natasha Richardson was filing for divorce behind her husband's back and that their marriage was a sham.

[ image: Richardson: Distress over marriage rumours]
Richardson: Distress over marriage rumours
The story was published last month in London, Scotland, the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland - where Neeson was born and where his family still live.

A High Court judge in London heard on Friday that the actors - married for four years with two young sons - were shocked by the allegations which caused "an explosion of publicity worldwide".

Mr Neeson, who was nominated for an Oscar for his role in the film Schindler's List, was told about the article by his mother.

She phoned him in great distress from Northern Ireland after seeing the headlines while out shopping.

The actors' solicitor, Mark Thomson, told Mr Justice Gray that the couple then spent several days attempting to deal with the destructive aftermath of the articles denying the allegations to friends and family.

Mirror Group Newspapers accepted "unequivocally" that the story was entirely false and apologised for the embarrassment, hurt and distress caused to the couple.

The information came from a source thought to be reliable, but it was clearly a mistake for the reporter to rely on that source, said solicitor Martin Cruddace.

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