Sunday Times pays libel damages to WPP exec

The Sunday Times has apologised and is to pay libel damages to a key figure with international advertising and marketing group WPP over claims that she had an affair with her former company chief.

Mr Justice Eady was told today that the paper made the allegation in respect of Daniela Weber, chief operating officer of WPP Holdings Italy.

Webber's solicitor, Mark Thomson, said the claims appeared in two articles published on 29 January and 12 February this year under the headlines "Lawyers probe Italian job at Sorrell's WPP" and "Benattigate takes a new twist as ousted Italian sues WPP."

Thomson said that both stories alleged that Weber had an affair with Marco Benatti, the former head of WPPs Italian business.

However, Thomson continued : "The defendant now accepts that the allegation is untrue. Not surprisingly, Ms Weber found the publication of the allegation very upsetting, especially since she was not asked about it prior to publication."

He said that Times Newspapers had already published an apology to Ms Weber and had agreed to pay damages which were to be assessed together with her legal costs.

Gillian Phillips for Times Newspapers told the judge : "The defendant offers its sincere apologies to Ms Weber for publication of the defamatory allegation in the Sunday Times which it accepts is untrue."

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