Salisbury Journal apologises to former football club chairman after reporting player's bankruptcy claim

A former chairman of Salisbury City Football Club accepted a public apology from the publisher of the Salisbury Journal over a story which reported a player's comments that he had been "bankrupt a few times". (Picture: Reuters)

Newsquest Media (Southern) Ltd said it fully accepted the statement that businessman William Harrison-Allen had been bankrupt was untrue, and that he had never been made bankrupt.

Barrister Joanne Kirby, for Newsquest, told Mr Justice Warby at the High Court on 24 March that on 2 October last year the Salisbury Journal's back-page sports section published an interview with former Salisbury City FC player Robbie Matthews "who was bewailing the continuing financial difficulties faced by the club".

She went on: "In the closing paragraphs of the report, the claimant was mentioned.

"Mr Matthews made the claim that Mr Harrison-Allan had been partly to blame for the problems.

"He then added that Mr Harrison-Allan 'has been bankrupt a few times'. He went on to say that Mr Harrison-Allan had 'walked away scot-free' while the new owners of the club suffered abuse from fans on account of the club's troubles."

Harrison-Allan had complained, and Newsquest Media (Southern) had agreed to settle the matter by making the statement in open court, and had previously published an apology, Kirby said.

She added: "We, the publisher, fully accept that the claim that Mr Harrison-Allan has been bankrupt is untrue. He has never been made bankrupt.

"It was an oversight that the claim was not checked and we apology sincerely to Mr Harrison-Allan for the embarrassment and distress cased by our mistake.

"We also accept that the claimant invested large sums in Salisbury City FC and lost a good deal of it. In that financial context, Mr Harrison-Allan did not get away 'scot-free' and we would like to set the record straight in that regard."

Solicitor Duncan Lamont, for Harrison-Allan, said that with the public apology and his costs paid, his client was content to let the matter rest.

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