Standard loses Gordon Ramsay libel case

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

Mr Justice Eady was told at the High Court that Ramsay, along with 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.

Lawyers for the paper apologised and agreed to pay libel damages, reported to total £75,000 to Ramsay, Llewellyn and the company, and to pay their legal costs, which are said to bring the bill to around £100,000.

Solicitor Keith Schilling, for Ramsay, told the judge that the episode leading to the action centred on Bonapartes restaurant and wine bar.

"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 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 the Bonapartes programme portrayed throughout an accurate picture of the restaurant and its operations.

Outside court, 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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