Union leader accepts damages from NoW

Union leader Derek Simpson today accepted undisclosed damages from the News of the World after it claimed he took unfair advantage in an election he eventually won.

Simpson, the joint general secretary of Unite, brought High Court proceedings over an article published in October.

His solicitor, Athalie Matthews, told Mr Justice Eady in London the article alleged that Simpson was guilty of a breach of election rules and misusing union funds which gave him an unfair advantage in the March election.

It stated that he had sent a mailshot to Unite’s members six weeks before the election and, as a result of this, was to be fined £100,000 or would have to retire early.

All the allegations were untrue, Matthews said, adding: “The publication of this article caused Mr Simpson considerable distress and embarrassment.

“He was especially concerned that it could cause Unite members to suspect him of cheating in the election and thus to question the validity of his election.

“He was also understandably concerned that falsely suggesting that he might have to retire within six months could undermine his leadership and destabilise the union.”

News Group Newspapers, publisher of the News of the Word, had apologised and agreed to pay Simpson damages and legal costs.

The newspaper’s solicitor, Patrick Callaghan, said it wished to make clear that it was entirely mistaken in publishing the allegations.

He added: “It did so in reliance on a source which it believed to be reliable. As such, the News of the World apologises to Mr Simpson for this article and for the distress and embarrassment it has caused him.”

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