The world's 12th richest man, Sheldon Adelson, today accepted a formal apology and 'very substantial'damages at London's High Court after the Daily Mail accused him of 'cut-throat, ruthless and despicable business practices", including 'colluding'with Malcolm Glazer ahead of Glazer's takeover of Manchester United FC.
Today's settlement brought to an end what was later described in a statement from Adelson's solicitors as one of the 'UK's most expensive libel actions ever."
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The statement said it was estimated that the publication of the article and the paper's 'near three years defence'of the claim would cost Associated Newspapers in the region of £4 million.
Billionaire Adelson, chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, the world's biggest casino chain, sued publishers Associated Newspapers over the two page article on 28 May 2005 headlined: "Glazer's Big Gamble", "Sold Trafford" and "Revealed, the ruthless casino baron who rules Las Vegas and is helping United's new owner in a desperate bid to fund his debt".
His solicitor, Gideon Benaim, told judge Mr Justice David Eady at the London court today: 'The article suggested that Mr Adelson and his Las Vegas business had, in pursuit of their plans shamelessly to exploit Manchester United by operating a gambling complex at Old Trafford, colluded with Mr Malcolm Glazer in his bid to gain control of the club, holding secret talks before Mr Glazer's takeover, and attempting after the takeover to conceal their involvement in the complex by announcing their plans whilst supprters were distracted by the ongoing battle with Mr Glazer.
"The article suggested that Mr Adelson and, by implication, his business as engaging in cut-throat, ruthless and despicable business practices, including that they were inordinately and unreasonably litigious, that they routinely attacked in he press any politician who sided with their enemies, and suggested that the habitually and corruptly bought political favour.
'Examples of Mr Adelson's alleged unreasonable litigiousness were given in the article, including a supposedly bizarre case in which he had even sued himself, by causing Las Vegas Sands to claim £27million in damages from another company in the group, Venetian Casino Resort.
'The article also made serious and unpleasant allegations concerning Mr Adelson's private life. It clamed that he had callously asked for his wife the night before she was to have a cancer operation, sending a friend to do this rather than asking her himself; and suggested that he had ruthlessly, albeit not unlawfully, stitched up his stepsons by buying heir shares in one of his companies at a fraction of heir true value."
Benaim continued: 'My Lord, these allegations were all unjustified. As such they represent a grave slur on Mr Anderson's personal integrity and business reputation. The allegations were also highly offensive to Mr Adelson, causing him considerable distress and embarrassment. All of the allegations are absolutely and utterly false.'
He added that his client had never even met or spoken with Malcolm Glazer, and that the reporting on this issue was 'totally in error". He said that Las Vegas Sands' plans to pen an entertainment complex at the ground were announced, in a proper and open way, by a press release on 9 May 2005.
He said that the publishers had agreed to withdraw the allegations, apologise publicly, and to pay Mr Adelson – who is 12th on Forbes' worldwide rich list – 'a very substantial sum'in damages and his legal costs.
Lindsay Hodgkinson, for Associated, added: 'Both the defendant and David Jones, the author of the article, unreservedly withdraw the allegations against Mr Adelson and Las Vegas Sands that my friend has outlined, and wish to apologise personally and publicly to them for the damage and distress caused by the publication of this article."
In the statement issued later by London Solicitors, Schillings afterwards Mr Adelson said : 'The Daily Mail's article was a wholly unwarranted attack on me and our business. It was based on a lie 0 the false allegation that I had secret meetings with Malcolm Glazer, a man I have never met – and proceeded to make wild and false claims about my personal life and my career."
He said that he would be donating the damages to the Royal Marsden Hospital in London which specialises in cancer treatment.