Lack of malice halts David Beckham's $25m US libel bid

England football star David Beckham has failed in his $25m libel bid against a US magazine over claims he slept with a prostitute.

Beckham strenuously denies the allegations and his lawyers insist that Bauer-owned In Touch magazine does not defend the truth of them.

But his action has failed because under US law he was required to prove not just that the allegations were untrue, but that the publisher acted with malice.

US District Judge Manuel Real threw out the lawsuit at a hearing in Los Angeles, saying as the Los Angeles Galaxy player was a public figure his lawyers had not shown that the tabloid published the story with malice.

Beckham’s lawyer, Richard Kendall, argued that the magazine failed to do basic checking which would have shown that Beckham was not where it claimed he was.

In Touch lawyer Elizabeth McNamara said the judge made the proper ruling.

She said the magazine did everything possible to corroborate details from the prostitute’s on-the-record interview.

Beckham started his legal action in September. In January a court heard that he was visiting his father in London, who was ill, during one of the alleged meetings with the purported call girl, Irma Nici.

Kendall said a basic investigation by the magazine would have shown that Beckham was elsewhere when the alleged meetings occurred.

He asked the judge to allow the case to proceed so he could conduct depositions that would bolster Beckham’s case, but the judge refused.

“We were left with two hands tied behind our back for the purposes of this motion,” Kendall said after the hearing.

He said In Touch had taken specific steps to block its story from being seen in England, where Kendall said libel laws would have resulted in a quicker resolution to the case in the star’s favour.

A spokesman for Beckham said later: “Bauer do not dispute for purposes of this motion that their story is false. They have not provided one shred of evidence to support the claim this story is true. David Beckham’s clear evidence proved that this is without foundation.

“We have already won a court ruling in Germany and are awaiting damages. Unfortunately, the US legal system requires us to show that the magazine acted maliciously. Any knowledgeable person knows this story not to be true, we will continue to fight this in court and the decision will be appealed.”

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