Daily Mail pays damages to Oliver star over divorce story

The Daily Mail has agreed to pay “substantial” but undisclosed damages to Mark Lester, the former child star of the 1968 film Oliver, after it published a story about his divorce.

Lester sued Associated Newspapers for libel and invasion of privacy over the March 2008 story headlined: ‘A Very Twisted Marriage,’in the Daily Mail, and a piece on the Mail Online website titled: ‘Why I am locked in brutal divorce with my wife, by Oliver star, Mark Lester”.

According to Lester’s High Court writ, the story wrongly claimed that he had assaulted his ex-wife and allowed his three-year-old son to sleep in the same bedroom as Michael Jackson.

He said the story referred to an extract from a confidential social worker’s letter prepared for court proceedings, which his ex-wife disclosed to the Daily Mail.

Lester, now an osteopath in Cheltenham, said in the writ that he had a reasonable expectation that the information in the letter would be kept confidential and private, and the paper was liable for disclosure of the information in the letter.

Associated Newspapers’ solicitor, Lindsay Hodgkinson, said today that the Daily Mail acknowledged that the allegations against Lester were untrue. The paper has agreed to pay ‘a substantial sum in damages’and Lester’s legal costs.

Lester’s solicitor, David Price, said the allegations had caused “immense distress”.

‘The claimant was deeply hurt and upset by the article, which was extremely damaging to his reputation both personally and professional,’Price said in a statement read in court this morning.

Lester acknowledged that he was a friend of Michael Jackson, but said his children had never slept in the same bedroom as the star.

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