Ex-England and Manchester United striker Andrew Cole today accepted a formal apology and ‘substantial damages’at London’s High Court after the Daily Star branded him a “wife-beater”.
Cole, who recently signed for League One side Nottingham Forest, sued the paper’s publisher Express Newspapers over the 26 February article headlined ‘Footie Cole is ‘wife beater'”, published the day after Cole was arrested by Cheshire Police on suspicion of assault following an incident at a house in Alderley Edge.
Cole’s solicitor, Rachel Atkins, told judge Mr Justice David Eady today that Cole had been released on bail on 26 February, and that all charges against him were ultimately withdrawn on 28 March.
She said: ‘On 26 February 2008, the defendant published a front page article in the most sensationalist terms in the Daily Star alleging that ‘Footie Cole is a ‘wife-beater'”. In a further article that day, the defendant also alleged that there were strong grounds to suspect that the claimant was guilty of beating his wife.
‘Both articles were completely false. There had been no finding. There had been no trial. Simply, at that stage an alleged incident was being investigated and in fact the charges against the claimant were dropped shortly thereafter.”
‘The impact on the Cole family caused by the sensationalist articles published by the defendant and the constant press attention made the situation untenable, and the claimant had no option but to clear his name by approaching this court.
‘Faced with refusal by the defendants to apologise, after numerous requests, and the fact that he knew that the allegations were completely false and without any foundation, the claimant felt he had no option but to issue proceedings for defamation.
‘In the face of those proceedings, the defendant has now accepted that there is no truth whatsoever in the allegations that the claimant is guilty of beating his wife or that there were strong grounds to suspect that he was and the allegations should never have been made at all. It has therefore agreed to apologise for the defamatory and false allegations made and to pay the claimant substantial damages together with his legal costs.’
Kate Wilson, counsel for Express Newspapers, added: ‘Through me, the defendant offers its sincere apologies to the claimant for the distress and embarrassment caused by these articles to him and his family. The defendant accepts that there was and is no truth in the allegations made and undertakes never to repeat them. It is therefore happy to set the record straight and apologise to the claimant.”
In a written statement, Cole said: ‘I brought this action in order to protect my reputation and the impact on my family caused by the sensationalist articles published by the Daily Star. The constant press attention made our lives untenable. I am happy my name has now been cleared, that the Daily Star has accepted there was no truth in the allegations and the matter resolved.”
Cole, who married his wife, Shirley, in July 2002, won 15 England caps, and also played for Arsenal, Blackburn Rovers, Fulham, Manchester City, Newcastle United and Portsmouth.