A retired musician felt that his life was put in danger after he was wrongly alleged to be a paedophile by The Sun, a High Court judge was told today.
George Gibbs, who lives in Liverpool, suffered “very significant distress, humiliation and anxiety” after a photograph of him, captioned with his surname, appeared in an article in The Sun in March this year, counsel Godwin Busuttil told Mr Justice Tugendhat.
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- November 4, 2013
- September 17, 2013
The story – which was headlined: “Smashed: World’s biggest paedo ring” – concerned the successful results of Operation Rescue, an international investigation involving British police which was targeting paedophiles in the UK and abroad.
A similar version also appeared on the newspaper’s website, Busuttil said.
Both versions alleged that Gibbs had been deported from Thailand because of his involvement in child sex offences as a result of the investigation.
But the allegation was false and its publication in the most widely read national newspaper in the country was a “grave slur” on Gibbs’s reputation and integrity, Busuttil said.
“Understandably, given the emotive nature of the allegation, the claimant felt that his life had been put in danger.”
He added that News Group Newspapers, which now accepted that the allegation was untrue and that it was wrong to publish it, had agreed to publish a correction and pay Mr Gibbs “substantial” damages over the libel.
The newspaper’s solicitor, Harriet Brown, offered its apologies for the distress and anxiety caused.