Martin O'Neill sues Daily Mirror for defamation

Former Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill has launched a legal action against publisher Mirror Group Newspapers demanding libel damages of up to £200,000.

O’Neill has launched his libel action against MGN claiming a string of stories and a cartoon published last summer in the Daily Mirror were defamatory.

The football manager claims a story published on 24 June headed “Hodgson ready to be new Reds boss” suggests through innuendo that he was a liar and a hypocrite.

According to a writ filed at the High Court, O’Neill says the story suggested he had professed commit to manage Villa while taking part in secret negotiations to become manager of Liverpool Football Club.

By innuendo, O’Neill claims, this meant he planned to abandon Villa and was breaking the rules of the Premier League.

O’Neill is also suing over a front page story in August headed “O’Neill quits – and this was team’s reaction”, “Kicked in the bollys”, and “March 30…the day it started going wrong for O’Neill. Financial cuts, no budget and players revolt forced boss to end his reign”.

Others which have attracted his ire include two online stories: “Why Martin O’Neill’s Villa exit proves he really is the new Brian Clough” and “O’Neill lost the dressing room and didn’t like the cutbacks”.

He is also demanding damages for a cartoon captioned “Martin O’Neill quits after losing the dressing room”.

O’Neill, through lawyers Geldards, claims the stories suggested he alienated players, lost the confidence of the dressing room and caused a player’s revolt which then forced him to resign.

He claims his reputation was seriously damaged and that he suffered severe distress and embarrassment as a result.

O’Neill is seeking an injunction banning repetition of the allegations and aggravated damages, saying the paper made no effort to contact him prior to publication either to verify the truth or to seek his response.

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