The Sunday Express has apologised to former England rugby captain Mike Tindall after alleging a “blip” in his relationship with wife Zara Phillips, the Queen’s granddaughter.
Press Gazette revealed in January that Tindall was seeking £50,000 in privacy damages from the paper over the February 2013 story, which was headlined: “Zara and Mike in marriage blip”.
Tindall sought damages for “publication of false, private information” published in the story, which featured coverage of his night out with the England rugby team in New Zealand when he was seen on CCTV with another woman.
The Sunday Express initially defended the case, suggesting the claim should be “struck out, or alternatively summary judgment entered for the defendant”.
But it apologised yesterday and, according to The Guardian, agreed to an out-of-court settlement with Tindall – which he will donate to charity – ahead of a hearing which was scheduled for next month.
The apology said: “In an article published on 10 February 2013 entitled 'Zara and Mike in marriage blip' we reported rumours that Mike Tindall’s marriage was in trouble and that his wife had left the marital home.
“We accept that this was untrue and recognise that this reporting was intrusive.
“We apologise to Mike Tindall for any distress the article may have caused him.”
In its initial defence to the High Court, the newspaper admitted publishing rumours about Tindle’s marriage to Phillips, but denied this infringed his right “to respect for his private and family life”.
The newspaper also said the article made clear that "the reported rumours were rumours and their veracity was unknown" and it said that "the reported rumours did not contain medical, highly personal or sensitive information of any kind".
The Sunday Express said in its defence, seen by Press Gazette: “The state and stability of the marriage of a person in the line of succession to the throne and the proximity of the claimant’s wife is a matter of public interest.
“A marriage is a matter of public record; a divorce is a matter of public record. Accordingly, in principle, there are some aspects of a marriage which are inherently public.”
The newspaper claimed that the couple are both sporting role models and as a result are of interest to the public.
The Sunday Express also denied Tindall has suffered any damage as a result of their story.