Sarah Ferguson seeks £40m in lost earnings over NOTW sting in wake of Fake Sheikh jailing

The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, is seeking £40m from Rupert Murdoch over an investigation published in the now-defunct News of the World.

Ferguson was forced to apologise after she was filmed appearing to offer access to her former husband Prince Andrew in exchange for £500,000 by undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood, also known as the “Fake Sheikh”.

Mahmood was jailed in October 2016 after he was found guilty of tampering with evidence in the collapsed drugs trial of pop star Tulisa Contostavlos.

Ferguson claims that the 2010 News of the World report damaged her reputation, costing her £40m in lost earnings.

The lawsuit, seen by The Mail on Sunday, details Ferguson’s claims against Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers, publishers of the Sun titles.

She claims to have lost £4.8m in earnings from public appearances, a potential £8.6m from a deal with Windmill Health Products and £5.8m from lost commission.

The lawsuit claims: “The Duchess was working to assist… Graham King on raising funds for new projects of $125m [£90.2m]. The commission that would have been payable on funds raised was… £4,373,250.”

Graham King was an executive producer on the Ben Affleck film Argo and Martin Scorsese’s The Departed.

The documents also claim that Ferguson would have made £22m from two cartoon shows and £766,375 from two book series, including one named Madame Pantaloon.

Lawyers for News Group Newspapers called Ferguson’s case “defective and embarrassing”, accusing her of dishonesty, according to The Mail on Sunday.

News Group Newspapers stands by the News of the World story, which Ferguson’s camp claims was an invasion of privacy.

News of the World reported that, in addition to asking for £500,000 for access to special representative for international trade and investment Prince Andrew, Ferguson accepted a $27,600 cash payment.

In 2016, the Duchess was after £25m in damages related to the undercover sting operation.

The Mail on Sunday reported that Ferguson said the News of the World article caused “serious embarrassment, humiliation, distress and reputational damage”.

She also accused the paper of using “deceit” to get “unguarded statements to her detriment.”

The defence argues that Ferguson’s privacy was not invaded and that there was a public interest in publishing its report.

A media lawyer told Press Gazette after Mahmood’s jailing that the journalist could face a “significant number” of civil claims from victims of his undercover stings after his guilty verdict. 

Picture: Reuters/Jon Nazca

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