The Guardian has apologised and paid damages to boxing commentator Steve Bunce after falsely claiming he used a website to campaign to get his axed show back on television.
An article by columnist Marina Hyde headlined “Bunce takes the biscuit” alleged the commentator used bringbackbunce.net as a campaigning tool and that the website also featured support to get him back on TV that he didn’t really posses from high-profile politicians including Bertie Ahern and David Blunkett.
Bunce’s lawyer, Hanna Basha of London law firm Carter-Ruck, told the High Court this morning the allegations were completely false and without foundation.
Basha said Bunce had presented a show called “Steve Bunce’s Boxing Hour” on Setanta Sports until the channel went into administration in June and the programme was no longer broadcast.
She told the court the article, which appeared in the Guardian on 1 October, cause her client, who is an experienced boxing commentator both in the national press and on TV and radio, distress and embarrassment.
Bunce contacted the newspaper through his solicitor the day after publication, Basha said, and it removed the allegations from its website and apologised to him in print and online days later.
The Guardian apology stated: “In Bunce takes the biscuit we wrongly suggested that Steve Bunce, the boxing commentator, controlled the website bringbackbunce.net and had claimed on the site to have high-profile supporters, including Bertie Ahern and David Blunkett.
“We accept that Mr Bunce could not have made any such claims, as he did not set up and does not control this website. We apologise to Mr Bunce for the error.”
Basha told the court the paper’s publisher, Guardian News & Media, had agreed not to repeat the allegations and to pay Bunce damages and legal costs.
Steve Bunce said: “It’s a fantastic result and I am glad that all this has been resolved so quickly.”