Former Eastenders star Mo George, who played road sweeper Gus on the soap, won £75,000 libel damages from The Sun at London’s High Court today over an article he claims branded him a woman beater.
The 26-year-old actor claimed that “to be described as a wife beater or woman beater is only one step away from being described as a paedophile”.
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George won a jury decision in his favour at the High Court despite the fact that in March 2007 he was given a police caution for assault after admitting striking his girlfriend with a bag of rubbish.
The actor complained about an article in The Sun alleging he beat up his lover and mother of his four year old baby daughter Olivia.
He told the court he felt “devastated, very hurt , upset and angry” at the allegations.
He also claimed that being branded an “animal” had racial connotations which also made him “very angry”. He said the article had left him depressed, unwilling to go out and at times tearful.
It took the jury of eight men and four women seven hours after a nine-day trial to reach their majority verdict by 10-2.
The smiling actor said as he left court: “I am absolutely ecstatic, overcome with emotions and feel pure delight. The shackles have been released from me. I have had to live with this weight hanging over me and now finally people can realise that what they wrote was not true.
“I haven’t been able to work because which casting director would want to use a wife beater. I hope now to get on with my life and get back to work and even do charity work with people not wanting me to do anything for them while this was hanging over me.
“I also want to thank all my friends and family who have supported me through all of this.”
The first article appeared on the front page in December 2006 under the heading “Enders Star Beats Lover”.
It said he “flew into a rage and was like a wild animal” and attacked his girlfriend 27-year-old Emma Archibald outside a London restaurant.
A second article in March 2007 headed “Mo booted off square for attack” repeated the allegations.
In March 2007 the actor was given a police caution for common assault after admitting that he hit her with a plastic bag of rubbish. But in court he said all he did was tip the rubbish over her.
He was then suspended from the BBC soap for two months for bringing it into “disrepute”. Last year he left the show altogether by mutual consent.
The court heard that on the night in which the assault took place an argument had erupted between the pair which continued outside a restaurant in the early hours of the morning when George’s girlfriend wanted to meet up with some friends to carry on celebrating and he wanted to go home.
He poured a drink over her and grabbed her flimsy blouse which tore and ripped her bra strap so she was almost spilling out of it, the court heard.
George said she was a “feisty lady” who then threw a punch and hit him, and in the commotion several people dialled 999.
It was no more ‘than a storm in a Double D cup’rather than a major incident, George’s lawyer told the court.
Publishers News Group Newspapers had denied libel, claimed justification and maintained that the article was true.
They were ordered to pay the £75,000 within 14 days and also ordered to pay £75,000 on account towards his legal costs.