Former England football star Paul Gascoigne is suing The Sun over allegations of defamation and invasion of privacy.
Gascoigne has launched a legal action against owner News Group Newspapers (NGN), part of News International, over two stories – one headlined ‘Gazza off to rehab after lager trek to pal Moat’and second story ‘It’s Paw Gascoigne”. Both were published in July 2010.
In the first story The Sun published enough information about the location of the clinic, near Bournemouth, that Gascoigne believed people were spying on him with the paper’s encouragement, which interfered with his treatment, he claimed in a High Court writ.
The former footballer claimed it was evident from his intervention with killer Raoul Moat that he was desperately in need of treatment.
In July last year, Gascoigne, 43, arrived in Rothbury – where police were then hunting for armed killed Moat – and talking to Radio North East suggested (according to reports) that he had brough Moat “a can of lager, some chicken, a mobile phone and something to keep warm”.
In the writ, Gascoigne claims the stories breached his reasonable expectation of privacy and caused such distress that the challenge of rehabilitation became even more difficult for him.
In the second story, The Sun claimed he had committed sexual assault by walking into a chemist’s shop and groping a shop assistant’s breasts, revealing him to be a ‘dirty old man”, Gascoigne states in the claim.
Gascoigne, who is seeking aggravated damages, said it was extremely difficult for an alcoholic to give up drinking and recover and he added that he fears that without an injunction the allegations will be repeated.
He is seeking an injunction banning publication of information about his medical condition or medical treatment, including treatment for alcohol addiction.
Gascoigne has instructed Richard Pitkethly of solicitors Steel and Shamash to act for him.
In July, Gascoigne became one of the lead cases in the News of the World phone-hacking litigation, moving up from the “reserve” list after the settlement of football pundit Andy Gray’s case for £20,000.
His civil damages claim against News Group Newspapers (NGN) will be assessed at London’s High Court in January along with that of actor Jude Law, sports agent Sky Andrew, interior designer Kelly Hoppen and MP Chris Bryant.
According to the latest writ, that case arises out of the disclosure of information by the Metropolitan Police and Vodafone relating to material forfeited by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire who, with former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman, was jailed over royal phone taps in 2007.
In his writ against The Sun, Gascoigne alleges that Glenn Mulcaire hacked into a phone message left by his friend James Gardner for former Professional Footballers Association (PFA) chief executive Gordon Taylor, asking for the PFA to help with the cost of crucial surgery on his spine.