Sky News pays damages to Robert Murat over video

Robert Murat today accepted substantial undisclosed libel damages over an allegation that there were strong grounds for believing that he was guilty of abducting Madeleine McCann.

Murat was not at London’s High Court for the settlement of his action against British Sky Broadcasting.

His solicitor Louis Charalambous told Mr Justice Eady that an article and video on the Sky News website claimed that in the early days after Madeleine’s disappearance from Praia da Luz, Portugal, in May 2007, Murat’s behaviour was reminiscent of child murderer Ian Huntley.

The article, which was published until April this year, and the video, which was accessible until this September, also suggested that Murat had deliberately tried to mislead journalists by pretending to be acting in an official capacity for the police.

Victoria Shore, counsel for BSkyB, which is also paying Murat’s costs, made an unreserved apology for publishing the false allegations, and the distress caused.

Charalambous told the judge that the allegations were entirely untrue and it was accepted that Mr Murat had no involvement whatever in the abduction of Madeleine.

“The defendant accepts that Mr Murat did not act like a child murderer nor did he try to mislead or lie to any journalists.

“It acknowledges that Mr Murat’s actions after the abduction were entirely proper and were motivated by a desire to help find Madeleine McCann.”

He said that Sky’s apology would appear on its website for 12 months.

Shore said that it very much regretted the distress caused by the publications.

Outside court, Charalambous said that the settlement represented the final stage of Murat’s claims against those sections of the British media “which defamed him so terribly”.

“He has been entirely successful and vindicated. He could never have brought any of these claims without the use of conditional fee agreements which gave him access to justice.

“It was particularly important to him to nail this particular lie – that he acted in some way reminiscent to the Soham murderer Ian Huntley when, in fact, he was working flat out to help try to find Madeleine.”

In July, Murat received a record settlement of £600,000 over “seriously defamatory” allegations in nearly 100 articles connecting him with the abduction.

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