McKenna wins libel case against Mirror

Celebrity hypnotherapist Paul McKenna today won his libel claim at London's High Court over a newspaper article which he said made him "a laughing stock" among his rivals.

However, he will have to wait until later this year to find out how much he is to receive in the way of damages.

McKenna sued the Mirror over an article in October 2003 which he claimed had painted him as a "fraudster who knowingly bought a degree to defraud the public".

Finding that the article was libellous top judge, Mr Justice Eady said he would assess how much he was to receive at a further hearing later in the year.

The article at the centre of the case alleged McKenna had received a "bogus degree" from La Salle University, Lousiana.

In his ruling today the judge said : "Mr McKenna had been granted a degree by La Salle, for what it was worth (as to which opinions clearly differ.)

"He valued it and was not seeking to deceive anyone by making reference to it himself or permitting others to do so."

He said that in the circumstances he could not accept that the Mirror had discharged the burden of proving that the "sting of the words" complained of by McKenna was substantially true.

"Mr McKenna was not in my judgment dishonest and, for that matter, whatever one may think of the academic quality of his work, or of the degree granted by La Salle, it would not be accurate to describe it as ‘bogus'", said the judge. It was certainly not granted ‘merely' for money."

During the hearing earlier this month McKenna told the court : "I was appalled that he had returned to the subject again which seemed to me to be an act of spite. I felt humiliated and disgusted.

"I was very hurt as it depicted me as a fraudster who knowingly had bought a degree to defraud the public.

"I worry that as a result of the article people will question not only whether I am telling the truth about my academic qualifications, but also about my integrity as a hypnotherapist, broadcaster, author and trainer.

"In my profession it is essential that people trust me and therefore I believe that the article has been damaging to my professional reputation and my business.

"Commercial competitors have seized on the article and mocked me. My peers made jokes about the article and I became a laughing stock."

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