Star in libel payout over Raoul Moat computer game tale

The makers of violent video game Grand Theft Auto today won "substantial" damages and an apology from the Daily Star after the newspaper wrongly claimed they were planning a new version based on the hunt for Raoul Moat.

Rockstar Games sued publishers Express Newspapers over the claim that the company was planning a sequel to the hit game named Grand Theft Auto Rothbury, which was made in the aftermath of Moat's death in July.

Rockstar's solicitor, Melanie Hart, told Mr Justice Tugendhat that Express Newspapers now accepted that the story - which was accompanied by an image purported to be the cover of the game - was "entirely false", and had agreed to pay "substantial damages".

The article, headlined "Moat: Book Movie and Video Game" and in a leader headlined "Money out of Misery", both of which were published on July 21, "alleged that the claimant was proposing to release a new version of its highly successful Grand Theft Auto video game series which they claimed was to be entitled 'Grand Theft Auto Rothbury'," Ms Hart said.

"It was claimed that this new game would be based on the tragedy which culminated in the events at Rothbury in July 2010.

"The article was illustrated by an image which purported to be the cover of the new video game. The defendant solicited and published quotes from third parties, including one from a grieving relative of a victim of Mr Moat, in which the alleged plan to create such a game was described as 'sick' and deplored in the strongest terms.

"In a leader, the defendant commented that the people behind the production of the video game were 'questionable idiots' who were making money out of other people's misery."

The Daily Star had not approached Rockstar for comment prior to publication, she said, adding: "In those circumstances, the defendant is here to apologise to Rockstar Games for the damage and distress caused by their publication of false allegation. The defendant has also agreed to pay substantial damages to Rockstar Games and has also agreed to pay their legal costs."

Clare Kissin, counsel for Express Newspapers, said: "Express Newspapers Ltd accepts that the allegations made against Rockstar Games are untrue. The defendant apologises for the upset and damage caused."

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