Sun payout over Kelvin MacKenzie Chelsea slur

Top Chelsea goalkeeper, Petr Cech today accepted undisclosed but ‘substantial’libel damages at London’s High Court over an article an The Sun in May last year which alleged he had acted in a ‘callous, heartless and uncaring way’after an alleged attack by his dog.

The international soccer star was accused by Kelvin MacKenzie of failing to apologise for serious injury sustained by his (MacKenzie’s) partner in January last year.

Mr Justice David Eady was told today that the article falsely accused Cech and his wife Martina of not only knowing that the injury was caused by their dog but also of knowing that their dog was dangerous and of being irresponsible dog owners.

However, Jonathan Price, counsel for the Cechs told the judge the allegations were ‘without foundation’but had caused ‘immense upset to both Mr and Mrs Cech.

He continued : ‘The truth is that Mr and Mrs Cech take their responsibilities as dog owners very seriously and their dog is sensibly handled and cared for at all times.”

He said that on the day in question MacKenzie’s partner was injured when she was pulled off her feet by a dog as she was walking close to the Cech’s home when the dog had made to attack Mr and Mrs Cech’s dog.

Price went on : “On hearing the commotion Mr Cech came out of the house and removed his dog from the scene. Mrs Cech and another neighbour stayed with Mr MacKenzie’s partner until an ambulance arrived.”

He said that Mr and Mrs Cech had visited Mr MacKenzie and his partner a few days later and expressed sympathy for her.

He added : ‘Although their dog had not been to blame for what had happened, Mr and Mrs Cech were anxious to avoid any future problems and to that end, they suggested that it might be sensible for an animal behavioural specialist to assess the dogs, both individually and together and make such suggestions as he thought fit.

‘Even though Mr and Mrs Cech offered to pay for this sensible course of action this offer was not accepted, even when repeated in the following weeks.”

However, the judge was told that MacKenzie referred to the incident in a column he wrote for the Sun, of which he was the former editor. The article, said Price, was written in a ‘gratuitously offensive tone’with ‘factual inaccuracies about the accident and its aftermath.’He said it was coupled with the absence of any attempt to check the story.

He said the paper had since printed an apology in MacKenzie’s column, had undertaken not to repeat the piece, paid substantial damages and agreed to pay the Cech’s reasonable legal costs. The damages will go to the Oxford Radcliff Hospital where Cech was treated in 2006 and to one or more other charities.

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