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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 October 2005, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
Beckhams to hear libel case tapes
David and Victoria Beckham
The Beckhams are suing the News of the World
David and Victoria Beckham have won the right to hear tape recordings of interviews given to journalists by their former nanny Abbie Gibson.

It comes as they prepare for a High Court libel battle with the News of the World, due to start on 5 December.

The couple are suing the newspaper over a September 2004 article entitled "Posh and Becks on Rocks".

Richard Spearman QC, for News Group Newspapers, said the paper's defence would be that the article was true.

Granting an application brought on behalf of the couple, the judge said they could hear tape recordings of Ms Gibson speaking to reporters during interviews which took place on 21 and 25 April this year.

Relevant recordings

The judge said articles were published in the News of the World on 24 April and 1 May 2005 based on information given by Ms Gibson about her experiences during her time as the Beckhams' nanny.

He added: "Proceedings were brought against Ms Gibson but not against the newspaper alleging breach of the terms of a confidentiality agreement. Those proceedings have not yet been resolved.

He said: "The suggested relevance of the recordings ... is that damage suffered by the claimants was aggravated by the fact that Ms Gibson was acting in flagrant breach of her contractual and common law duties of confidentiality in providing such information to the defendant."

The judge ruled: "The issue whether it was in the public interest for the disclosures to be made requires full information as to the extent and nature of the disclosures.

"In addition, it may well be that the tapes will be relevant to the question whether Ms Gibson should have appeared to the journalists as being a credible source of information about the claimants."

The judge rejected a number of disclosure applications by News Group Newspapers.

Libel claims

In their libel action, the Beckhams will say the September 2004 article suggested:

  • That they cynically and hypocritically tried to present a false image of their marriage to the public for financial reasons.

  • That their irresponsible and aggressive rows brought Mr Beckham to the verge of a breakdown, threatened Mrs Beckham's health during her pregnancy and damaged their children.

  • That despite presenting herself as a loyal wife in public, Mrs Beckham is insulting and disloyal about her husband in private, telling people he is a vain, arrogant and ranting Essex yob who has lost the plot.

    The Beckhams' lawyers will tell the court there is no truth in any of these allegations and that they have been defamed by the newspaper.

    Newsgroup Newspapers will tell the court the article in fact suggested:

  • That the Beckhams had been cynically and hypocritically trying - for financial reasons - to convince the public they had a happy marriage, when in reality it had been rocked and seriously damaged by his infidelity and her betrayal, leading to "inevitable tensions and rows".

    They will argue that this was true.

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