Trinity Mirror has secured a reduction of £25,000 in a libel award made to the father of a murdered child who it falsely accused of being a rapist.
The People published its false allegation on 19 September 2010 in a background feature about the notorious 2007 murder of Baby P (Peter Connelly).
It falsely claimed that Peter's biological father – who was not named – had been convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl. In March this year the man was awarded £75,000 in damages.
But today the Court of Appeal (the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Neuberger and Mr Justice Eady) agreed to reduce the amount of damages paid to £50,000.
The Lord Chief Justice said: "It is hard to exaggerate the seriousness of the publication of a false assertion that a man of good character has been convicted of the rape of a child."
He noted, however, that the complainant "KC" remained anonymous throughout the matter – as he does to this day.
And he added: "The falsity of the allegation was recognised and publicly corrected at a very early stage."
He said that the damages should be reduced "given the limited number of those who might have read or heard of the false allegation made against him, and appreciate that it did indeed refer to him, and the relative speed with which it was comprehensively and unequivocally regretted and withdrawn".
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal today upheld an award of £90,000 in damages to the cricketer Chris Cairns over a Twitter message posted by Lalit Modi which falsely accused him of match-fixing.
That tweet was followed-up by the website Cricinfo, resulting in a libel settlement of £7,000 in damages and £8,000 in costs. The Modi payout was awarded after the matter went to trial.
An appeal over the size of that payout was rejected, with the Court of Appeal stating that it was "proportionate to the seriousness of the allegation and its direct impact on Mr Cairns himself and will serve to vindicate his reputation".