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Thursday, 18 April, 2002, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Paper apologises to Gaddafi's son
Saif Gaddafi outside the High Court, London
Saif Gaddafi said he wanted to assert his innocence
The son of Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi has accepted a public apology from a newspaper that alleged he was involved in a multi-million dollar plot to flood Iraq with fake currency.

Saif Gaddafi, a 29-year-old architect and engineer, brought libel proceedings against the Sunday Telegraph over two articles published in November and December 1995.

We are delighted that we have at long last reached a settlement

Dominic Lawson
Sunday Telegraph editor
On Thursday, two days into a four-week trial at the High Court in London, his counsel, James Price QC, told the court the case had been settled.

The paper apologised in court, retracted the allegations and agreed to pay most of the costs.

Mr Price read out a statement, which said the first story had described Mr Gaddafi as an "untrustworthy maverick" who was trying to arrange illegal foreign currency dealings totalling billions of pounds, in order to break UN sanctions.

Correction bid

The barrister said that the second article claimed Mr Gaddafi's "henchmen" had contacted the author of the first story and tried to lure him to Libya.

But, Mr Price went on, in fact it was a friend of Mr Gaddafi's trying to arrange a meeting with the journalist to secure a correction.

Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi
Colonel Gaddafi is Saif's father
Mr Price said that Mr Gaddafi's motive for beginning legal proceedings was to get a retraction and apology, not compensation.

He said the newspaper had approached Mr Gaddafi through an intermediary, before and during the trial, to ask him to consider settling the case.

Geoffrey Robertson QC, representing Telegraph Group Ltd, said the newspaper had instructed him to say there was no truth in the allegation that Mr Gaddafi participated in any currency sting.

And relating to the second article, Mr Robertson said an approach by Hisham Ibrahim to the journalist, on behalf of Mr Gaddafi, was a genuine attempt to resolve the matter.

'No repeat'

There was no question of Mr Gaddafi intending any harm to the author of the article, Mr Robertson said.

The newspaper offered its sincere apologies to Mr Gaddafi and gave an undertaking that the allegations would never be repeated.

Mr Robertson added: "The settlement of this action is at the initiation of the Sunday Telegraph, which has agreed to make a substantial contribution to the claimant's costs."

A statement issued on behalf of the newspaper's editor, Dominic Lawson, said: "Since publication in 1995, we have made numerous attempts to resolve this complaint; we are delighted that we have at long last reached a settlement which both protects our sources and which does not require us to pay any damages."

See also:

18 Mar 02 | Middle East
Timeline: Libya
20 Feb 02 | Middle East
Meeting Gaddafi's son and heir
08 Feb 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Libya
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