New trial against tabloids looms for Rooney

By Dominic Ponsford and Roger Pearson

England footballer Wayne Rooney is still heading for a High Court showdown with News International this year — despite the fact that a £100,000 payout has halted his plans to sue The Sun and News of the World over claims he slapped his girlfriend Coleen McLaughlin.

Merseyside lawyer David Kirwan has confirmed that he still plans to take The Sun to court over an August 2004 story which he said wrongly claimed Rooney slept with Patricia Tierney — a woman The Sun dubbed the "haggard hooker" and "auld slapper". Tierney, pictured right, is the claimant in that case, but Rooney could be called as a witness.

The Sun’s lawyers tried to get the trial moved to London, from Liverpool, after they claimed the paper could not have a fair trial in the city because of its controversial coverage of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

As a compromise, the trial is to be held in Manchester and, according to Kirwan, it is due to take place towards the end of the year.

Tierney, 52, is a married mother of seven, and grandmother of 16, who says she has never been a prostitute, but had been a part-time receptionist at a massage parlour for three weeks.

Both The Sun and the News of the World have published apologies over stories of the argument between Rooney and McLaughlin, which they now admit were false.

In court last week, Rooney’s counsel, Ronald Thwaites, said of the News of the World article, which appeared days after The Sun piece last April: "The article alleged that Wayne violently tore into Coleen, screaming ‘f*** off home’, that Coleen was taken outside by her friends, that he was calmed down and restrained by team-mates, that he slapped Coleen in the face and that he punched Coleen in the chest."

He went on: "The allegations were and are completely false and indefensible.

The defendant got it wrong. Wayne and his fiancée, Coleen, were devastated by the publication of these false allegations, which caused him and his fiancée to suffer enormous embarrassment and distress."

The court heard that News Group Newspapers "now accepts the allegations are completely false and there is no foundation for them whatsoever and the article ought never to have been published at all".

Rooney’s solicitor, Keith Schilling, said: "Wayne intends to donate the damages to charity. The damages amount to £100,000, reflecting the gravity of the libels."

News Group must also pay Rooney’s legal costs, which could be double the level of his damages.

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