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Last Updated: Monday, 26 June 2006, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
DJ wins damages over gay claims
Ashley Cole and his fiancee Cheryl Tweedy
England star Ashley Cole was also wrongly linked to the reports
A disc jockey has accepted substantial libel damages after he was wrongly linked to reports of a "gay romp" involving two Premiership players.

Choice FM DJ Ian Thompson, known as Masterstepz, sued over articles in the Sun and News of the World in February.

England footballer Ashley Cole has also received damages over the articles and the papers apologised to both men.

The articles did not name the men, but their lawyers said they were identified by insinuation and innuendo.

'Simply untrue'

Mr Thompson was not in the High Court in London for the settlement of his action over articles in the two papers. The amount he received was undisclosed.

His advocate Korieh Duodu told Mr Justice Tugendhat that the claims were simply untrue.

He said his client had never been involved in such activities and was extremely upset by the articles.

He said as a result of the articles, Mr Thompson was subjected to intense harassment, including being inundated with phone calls, e-mails and text messages - much of which was extremely offensive and insulting.

Mr Duodu said the harassment had included threats Mr Thompson would be physically harmed.

The Sun and its sister paper the News of the World, published by News International, both ran articles in February including claims that two unnamed Premiership footballers and a DJ - also unnamed - had taken part in the "romp".

Singer fiancee

One News of the World article was accompanied by a photograph with faces pixellated out, and it said some readers wrongly thought Cole was the subject of the story.

We are happy to make clear that Mr Cole and Masterstepz were not involved in any such activities
Apology in News of the World and The Sun

The Sun ran an image of 25-year-old Cole and his fiancee, Girls Aloud singer Cheryl Tweedy with a headline that could be read as a reference to homosexuality.

Cole, 25, and Mr Thompson began legal action claiming libel, harassment and breach of privacy after the articles appeared.

Both publications have now printed almost identical apologies saying some readers had "understood" Cole to be one of the two Premiership players and Mr Thompson to be the music industry figure.

"We are happy to make clear that Mr Cole and Masterstepz were not involved in any such activities.

"We apologise to them for any distress caused and we will be paying them each a sum by way of damages."

Internet rumours spread after the original stories were published and they generated much discussion in chatrooms.

The legal proceedings were being viewed by many lawyers as a test of how the libel law dealt with allegations made against unnamed individuals.

Issuing writs, Cole's lawyer Graham Shear said the articles were "false and offensive".

Arsenal full-back Cole played a key role in England's vital World Cup second round tie on Sunday - a fixture which marked his 50th appearance for his country.


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