A Labour Party media chief has accepted damages and an apology from the Mail on Sunday over accusations that he kicked a teenage girl in the backside after she mocked his “Vote Yes” campaign sign by mimicking the famous When Harry Met Sally orgasm scene.
Philip Dilks, Labour’s head of regional media and a Lincolnshire councillor, sued after the August 2005 article headlined “When Harry Met Sallyâ€¦ and got a Labour boot in the backside”.
His solicitor, Gerald Shamash, told Mr Justice Eady at the High Court that the article “described how Mr Dilks had kicked a teenage girl in the backside after she and a friend had teased him by mimicking Meg Ryan’s famous fake orgasm scene from the film When Harry Met Sally as he carried large ‘Vote Yes’ boards through a Newcastle shopping centre as part of the Labour Party’s Yes campaign in support of a Northeast Regional Assembly”.
He continued: “The article reported that Mr Dilks was fortunate the girl did not complain to the police about assault.
“The Mail on Sunday accepts that neither Mr Dilks nor any of his colleagues kicked anyone or knows of any such incident occurring. The allegations caused Mr Dilks anxiety and embarrassment.”
Shamash said that the newspaper’s publishers, Associated, had agreed to publish an apology and pay Dilks a “suitable” damages sum plus his legal costs.
He added: “Mr Dilks is satisfied that he has been vindicated and has achieved everything he has sought to achieve by bringing this litigation.”
Associated’s solicitor, Kirsty Howard, added: “The defendants offer Mr Dilks their sincere apologies for any distress and embarrassment caused.”
Speaking afterwards, Dilks said the damages sum was “substantial”, but added: “It wasn’t about the money. I do not go around kicking young girls.”