Comedian Matt Lucas today accepted an apology and substantial damages from the owner of the Daily Star at the High Court over a series of intrusive articles published following the death of his former partner.
The 36-year-old Little Britain star sued Express Newspapers for invasion of privacy following the suicide, in October, of Kevin McGee, who he’d married in a civil partnership in December 2006 then divorced two years later.
Lucas’s solicitor, John Kelly, told Justice Tugendhat at that after the tragedy, Lucas informed the media that he did not want to discuss the matter and asked for his privacy to be respected.
Despite this, the Daily Star published a story alleging that Lucas had been put on suicide watch and that he had met a new boyfriend and chosen to move on.
Kelly said: “Such claims are wholly without foundation, and publishing these false claims at this time considerably aggravated the hurt and distress caused by the article.”
He added that the newspaper had also published an article speculating that the reason for the couple’s divorce was McGee’s use of cocaine.
Solicitor Zoe Norden, acting for Express Newspapers, offered sincere apologies for invading Lucas’s privacy and for the distress caused.
Kelly said the allegations had not been put to Lucas or his representatives before publication, adding that his client would have taken action to prevent such unlawful reporting.
He said Express Newspapers now retracted its allegations and accepted that Lucas was not on suicide watch and did not start a relationship as alleged.
Lucas was not at court but said in a statement: “This has been and continues to be a very difficult time for me and all those who loved Kevin.
‘My deep pain and sorrow have been made even greater by the intrusive and defamatory stories made about my private life in the Daily Star just hours after Kevin’s death.
“I had no choice but to bring these proceedings to protect my private life and my right to grieve in peace.
‘I’d like to add that I take no pleasure or sense of triumph in this settlement. I am just relieved that this case has been resolved and I sincerely hope this sort of intrusive reporting will now end.”