Page last updated at 17:15 GMT, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 18:15 UK

Tennis player labelled world's worst loses libel case

A tennis pro who took libel action against a newspaper which labelled him the "world's worst" professional player has lost his case in the High Court.

Robert Dee, 23, from Bexley, sued the Daily Telegraph over its story, which pointed out his 54 defeats in a row.

He said the story in April 2008 was offensive and could ruin his potential future career as a tennis coach.

The newspaper argued the article, "World's worst tennis pro wins at last", was justified and fair comment.

His record of consecutive losses was the world record equalling worst ever run of consecutive losses on the international professional circuit
Mrs Justice Sharp

Mr Dee, who is based in La Manga, Spain, has played in tournaments under the jurisdiction of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).

The Daily Telegraph said the story was not arguably defamatory when read together with another item in the same edition, and that Mr Dee had no real prospect of rebutting the defences of justification and fair comment.

Mrs Justice Sharp said that the claim of justification must succeed.

She said: "The claimant is a professional player who did indeed lose 54 consecutive matches in tournaments on the international professional circuit, during which he did not win one set.

Won settlements

"His record of consecutive losses was the world record equalling worst ever run of consecutive losses on the international professional circuit.

"The domestic Spanish tournaments in which the claimant played, and continues to play, are not part of the circuit, or the world circuit or the international professional circuit.

"They are not under the jurisdiction of the ITF or ATP.

"ATP ranking points are not available for them, and they are not world ranking."

She added that the facts were sufficient to justify any defamatory meaning the words complained of were capable of bearing.

A number of other media outlets covered the story, including the BBC and Reuters - Mr Dee successfully won settlements and apologies from a large number of them.



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