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Libel damages for EastEnders star

Actor Steve McFadden - best known for playing the character Phil Mitchell in the BBC soap opera EastEnders - has accepted undisclosed libel damages in the High Court after a tabloid newspaper suggested that he may have been guilty of harassing a former girlfriend.

Lawyers told a judge that McFadden sued after the News of the World reported his arrest in relation to "alleged harassment to cause violence" in a November 2010 article headed: "Nicked! Exclusive: Cops Arrest Enders Star."

They said McFadden was not charged with any offence and told Mr Justice Tugendhat that News of the World publisher News Group Newspapers had apologised and agreed to pay the actor damages and legal costs. Lawyers said McFadden was "prepared to let the matter rest" but did not give details of the size of the damages payout.

McFadden, 52, was at the hearing in London and afterwards told reporters: "I'm glad it's all over."

David Price QC, for McFadden, told Mr Justice Tugendhat that the article in the News of the World - which closed in July 2011 - referred to an "incident alleged to have taken place" at McFadden's home in May 2010.

The article - which was trailed on the front page and "occupied the whole of page 7" - reported McFadden's arrest "in relation to alleged harassment to cause violence towards his former girlfriend", said Mr Price.

He said the article also reported allegations that "unidentified 'police friends' of Mr McFadden" may have sought to "impede an earlier investigation".

Mr Price said police closed the investigation after being provided with CCTV footage of the "alleged incident" and announced that no charges would be brought. "This was reported in a short article in the News of the World on page 16 on 26 December 2010," Mr Price told the judge.

"Mr McFadden has consistently denied that there was any basis to accuse him of harassment or violent conduct or of impeding any police investigation and was confident that his innocence would be established by the CCTV footage. He was concerned that the 7 November article may have been understood to suggest that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that he was guilty."

Brid Jordan, for News Group Newspapers, told the judge: "The article was simply intended to report the fact of the arrest as a result of the allegations made without commenting on the strength of the case. The defendant apologises to Mr McFadden if the article was understood to suggest that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that he was guilty. It accepts without question the outcome of the police investigation."


From Belfast Telegraph