A top ranking army officer today accepted undisclosed libel damages and a public apology at London’s High Court over a Daily Express story which said he had quit his job at Sandhurst because of stress arising out of the arrival there of Princes William and Harry.
Mr Justice David Eady was told that the article headed “Sandhurst Chief Quits Job after Stress” appeared on 17 April last year.
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However, solicitor Louise Prince, told the judge that the allegations in respect of Maj General Andrew Ritchie (pictured) were “completely untrue and without any foundation whatsoever.”
She continued: “Unfortunately the defendant did not contact the claimant before the story was published to check upon the accuracy of what they had been told by a single unnamed source.”
She said the actual position was that Maj Gen Ritchie had neither quit his job at Sandhurst nor had he been suffering from stress.
Ms Prince said that Maj Gen Ritchie had held the post as Commandant at Sandhurst for some 40 months which was the longest period in charge for any commandant for some 20 years.
She said the Senior Appointments Board of the Army had made a decision upon the appointment of a successor to him and the Maj Gen was told his term was to end in April 2006. She had later been head-hunted and had resigned from the army to start a new job in July 2006.
“The claimant is a highly trained soldier who prides himself not unnaturally upon his professionalism. He has been trained to deal with stress and has a proven ability to deal with far more stressful events than running Sandhurst,” said Ms Prince.
For the paper solicitor Stephen Bacon said they accepted that the allegations made against Maj Gen Ritchie were untrue and apologised for the distress and embarrassment that had been caused to him.