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Wednesday, 5 April, 2000, 16:35 GMT 17:35 UK
Chef wins 75,000 libel damages
Marco Pierre White
Mr White, 38, said he was "very happy" with the outcome
Celebrity chef Marco Pierre White has won 75,000 High Court libel damages from two US newspapers.

A jury at London's Law Courts found that Mr White, 36, had been defamed by a syndicated article published in the papers in May 1998.


He has suffered nearly two years of anxiety, upset, irritation and no doubt secret anger

George Carman QC
The chef, of Curzon Street, London, sued over a "bombshell" sentence which appeared in the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune.

The article falsely claimed that he had indulged in a "well-publicised bout with drink and drugs".

He told the court: "I have never taken drugs in my life. I object to drugs. It is just something I don't approve of. I think it's very destructive."

The papers carried out an investigation and now accepted that there was no truth in the allegation, the court heard.

But they contested Mr White's claim arguing that the article did not defame him as it did not lower his reputation as a chef or a businessman.

The jury took two and a quarter hours to reach their verdict and awarded Mr White 15,000 against the New York Times and 60,000 against the International Herald Tribune.

Mr Justice Morland, ordered that the newspapers should pay the entire costs of the action, unofficially estimated to be around 480,000.

Adam Liptak, senior counsel for the New York Times Company, said they would pursue an appeal.

'Outstanding chef'

During the three-day case Mr White's counsel, George Carman QC, said the restaurateur was "shocked and very, very upset and angry" when he read the article.

After the hearing Mr White - who is to wed his long-time girlfriend Mati on Friday - said he was "very happy with the outcome".

Mr Carman told the jury that Mr White was "probably the most outstanding and distinguished restaurateur and chef this country has produced in the last 25 years".

He had commercial interests in a number of distinguished London restaurants including the Oak Room, the Mirabelle, Titanic and the Cafe Royal, said the QC.

Mr Carman said the chef had felt harassed by the newspapers.

He had discovered from friends that inquiry agents had been employed to see if they could get any "dirt" on him - any stories of "sex and drugs and rock and roll".

He said: "He has suffered nearly two years of anxiety, upset, irritation and no doubt secret anger at the high-handed, somewhat arrogant way he has been treated by them."

Mr Geoffrey Robertson QC, for the newspapers, had told the jury that most of the article was "very positive" about Mr White and suggested that, in fact, it had enhanced his reputation - it showed he had become "a star in his own firmament".

Mr Robertson said Mr White had already obtained the vindication he wanted as the defendants had carried out a lengthy investigation which he had passed with flying colours and received a clean bill of health.

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