Slur on celebrity chef to cost Evening Standard £100,000

The London Evening Standard was left facing a £100,000 libel damages
and legal costs bill over a slur it cast on celebrity chef Gordon
Ramsay’s hit programme Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.

Top libel
judge Mr Justice David Eady, was told at London’s High Court today
that Ramsay along with TV company Optomen Television, which makes the
programme, and Optomen’s managing director, Patricia Llewellyn, have
accepted a libel payout in respect of the story which claimed that
health hazards at a restaurant and wine bar in Silsden, West Yorkshire,
were faked.

Today lawyers for the paper publicly apologised for
what was published and agreed to pay libel damages, reported to total
£75,000 to the Ramsay, Ms Llewellyn and the company and to pay their
legal costs which are said to bring the bill to more around £100,000.

Solicitor
Keith Schillling for Ramsay and the other claimants told the judge that
the episode leading to the action centred on Bonapartes restaurant and
wine bar in Silsden, West Yorkshire.

“The defendants published an
article on 3 November 2005 which alleged that the programme specialised
in cynically faking scenes to make average restaurants look like public
health hazards, driving some out of business,” said Mr Schilling.

“It
alleged that the claimants were guilty of ‘gastronomic mendacity’ by
installing an incompetent chef and fabricating culinary disasters in
order to wreck Bonapartes restaurant’s reputation.

“The first and
second claimants suffered a great deal of distress in respect of this
article, which directly attacked their integrity and credibility. All
three claimants suffered damage to their reputations.”

He said
the paper now understood and accepted that the allegations were untrue
and that Bonapartes programme in fact portrayed throughout an accurate
picture of the restaurant and its operations.

He continued : “No
scenes had been faked, the kitchen was indeed untidy and a health
hazard, the restaurant was already in financial difficulty before the
programme was filmed, and the chef was not installed by the claimants.
In fact it was the chef who first contacted the claimants in relation
to participation in the programme.”

Adam Cannon, counsel for the
Standard, said the paper apologised for the distress and embarrassment
caused by the article which they accepted “was false.”

Outside
court afterwards, Ramsay said: “I won't let people write anything
they want about me. Even I have limits and on this occasion the line
was crossed. I am satisfied with today’s apology and am looking forward
to future series of Kitchen Nightmares.”

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