Boxing promoter Frank Warren was been awarded £35,000 libel damages at the High Court today over comments made in a TV interview by former world heavyweight champion Herbie Hide.
Warren brought the action after being ‘outraged’by claims made by Hide during a Setanta Sports interview in July 2008 during which it was alleged he was “manipulating and bribing people to give up titles”.
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Judge Patrick Moloney QC said he hoped the sum would “demonstrate to the world” that it was a serious case and that “Mr Warren has received the full vindication of this court”.
He also granted Warren an injunction banning the boxer from repeating the libel.
Warren claimed the words used in the interview “meant and were understood to mean” that he had dishonestly and corruptly bribed Johnny Nelson to retire and give up his WBO cruiserweight title so that Enzo Maccarinelli, a boxer he promoted, “would unjustifiably gain it without having to fight him, even though Nelson was going to retire in any event”.
Richard Munden, for Warren, told the judge: “An allegation of bribery is clearly a very serious allegation to make about anyone’s honesty and integrity, but it is particularly damaging to the claimant given the nature of his work.
“His job is to arrange boxing matches and negotiate contracts with opponents and his ability to do this depends on others in the industry – boxers, sponsors, supporters – believing that he behaves in a fair and honest manner.”
Munden said the words complained of were spoken during a telephone interview broadcast live on the television channel during a specialist boxing programme. There was also a video clip of the broadcast on YouTube.
The judge, in announcing his decision, said he was satisfied the injury to Warren’s reputation “can be described as a serious one” – it was “a serious allegation against his integrity”.
He added: “I am quite satisfied that he was genuinely affronted, offended and distressed.”
Hide took no part in the proceedings. Judgment against him was entered in default at an earlier court hearing.