Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie accepted undisclosed damages today from the News of the World to settle a privacy action brought over claims the couple were separating.
The couple were not at London’s High Court to hear solicitor-advocate Keith Schilling tell Justice Eady that News Group Newspapers, publisher of the News of the World, now accepted the allegation was “false and intrusive”.
The actors brought an action for misuse of private information and breach of the 1998 Data Protection Act over a January front page story, “Pitts all over”, which also appeared online.
Schilling told the court the newspaper, whose case was that it acted in good faith, had agreed to publish an apology and pay the couple their costs and damages, which they intended to donate to the Jolie-Pitt Foundation.
The article stated that the couple had visited divorce lawyers in December 2009 to begin thrashing out a divorce deal, Schilling said.
In addition, the article said an agreement had been concluded dividing assets of £205 million and providing for custody and visitation rights in relation to their six children, and that both of them had signed the agreement in January 2010 which made provision for their imminent separation.
He told the court the couple’s Los Angeles attorneys wrote to News Group informing them the allegations were false.
But, a few days later in the next issue, the News of the World published another article, “Brange Leak War”, which repeated the earlier allegations and stated the couple had argued about who had leaked details of their marriage break-up to the press.
Schilling said the actors, through their English solicitors, then requested the newspaper to publish an apology and retraction in respect of these allegations and, when it failed to do so, issued legal proceedings.
He added that the couple now considered their right to privacy had been vindicated.
Afterwards, Schilling said the publication had “spawned an array of false stories” all over the world.
“In consequence, when the News of the World failed to publicly retract the allegations and apologise for them – thereby leaving their readers in the dark as to the true position – the couple felt they had no alternative than to sue.
“Today’s victory marks the end of the litigation brought by Brad and Angelina.”