By Dominic Ponsford
The website at the heart of the Ashley Cole "gay orgy" libel saga has been told that it could be sued by the News of the World.
It is the latest twist in what has become one of the most unusual and complex libel disputes of recent years.
Ashley Cole has already filed writs against the News of the World and The Sun for libel, harassment and “false privacy” over stories about two un-named footballers involved in an alleged gay orgy.
Cole, who is engaged to be married, sued after a number of websites claimed he was the subject of the “gay orgy” stories. In particular, the website PinkNews.co.uk which carried the “original” of a heavily obscured picture which appeared in the News of the World and showed Ashley Cole with his arm around DJ Masterstepz.
PinkNews.co.uk was informed today that News Group newspapers, which publishes The Sun and News of the World, reserves the right to “issue proceedinga and or commence proceedings under the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978".
PinkNews.co.uk editor Benjamin Cohen said: "PinkNews.co.uk behaved in a responsible way in its handling of the Ashley Cole story. At no point did we claim that Mr Cole was gay.
"All that PinkNews.co.uk did was to publish what it believed (and subsequently emerged) to be the original version of a photograph edited by the News of the World.
Mr Cohen added: "As yet, the News Group have merely informed us of their rights to bring proceedings, as yet, no proceedings have been issued.
“In the event of a claim being pursued, PinkNews.co.uk has appointed Stock Fraser Cukier to represent them."