News Group apology offer in Cole gay orgy libel row

By Dominic Ponsford

The Sun and The News of the World have made an “offer of amends” in the Ashley Cole gay libel affair – a move which suggests they may admit that the story was at least party wrong.

The offer has been made to DJ Masterstepz, real name Ian Thompson, the person apparently pictured with his arm around Cole in a heavily obscured image which appeared in The News of the World on February 19.

Cole and Masterstepz are both suing The Sun and The News of the World over stories which made reference to un-named footballers and a music industry figure taking part in a “homosexual orgy”.

Although they were not identified, it is believed that the pair are suing because various websites named them as two of the men involved.

The offer of amends libel procedure is normally used in a case of “unintentional defamation”.

To make use of the defence a newspaper must make a written offer to publish a correction and provide suitable damages and prove that it had no reason to believe the story complained of refereed to the complainant.

Thompson’s lawyer Korieh Duodo, of David Price solicitors, said: “Now that News Group Newspapers appear to have accepted that these allegations are false, Masterstepz wants them to make prominent public apologies as quickly as possible. In the meantime we will investigate whether they have any explanation for publishing this story which entitles them to rely on an Offer of Amends.”

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