England rugby star Mike Tindall is seeking £50,000 damages from the Sunday Express after it published a story about his “marriage blip” with Zara Phillips.
The story, headlined 'Zara and Mike in marriage blip', was published on the 10 February 2013 edition of the Sunday Express and featured coverage of Tindall’s night out with the England Rugby team in New Zealand where he was seen on CCTV kissing a woman.
Tindall is seeking damages for the “’publication of false, private information” by the newspaper.
According to High Court documents, the Sunday Express is defending the case, suggesting the claim should be “struck out, or alternatively summary judgment entered for the defendant”.
In its response, the newspaper suggests: “It is averred that the nub of the complaint is the falsity of the allegations and this claim is in substance about the protection of the claimant’s reputation and not his private life or other aspect of his private information.”
The newspaper said it admits publishing rumours about Tindle’s marriage to Zara Phillps, but denied that this infringed the rugby international’s right “to respect for his private and family life”.
The newspaper’s defence suggests that several matters contained in the story were facts and based upon information freely available in the public domain.
- The claimant and his wife had sold their house in Cheltenham for £1.2 million and moved back to a property known as The Bothy on the Princess Royal’s Gatcombe Park estate
- The claimant and his wife had previously lived at The Bothy
The date of the marriage of the claimant and his wife and by implication, the date of their second wedding anniversary
In 2011, the claimant kissed on the lips and embraced a blonde woman who was not his wife and appeared to place his head between her breasts. At the time he was in New Zealands for the Rugby World Cup and captain of the England Rugby Team. The incident was captured on CCTV and images were widely published.
The newspaper said the article made clear that "the reported rumours were rumours and their veracity was unknown" and it said that "the reported rumours did not contain medical, highly personal or sensitive information of any kind".
The newspaper said: “The state and stability of the marriage of a person in the line of succession to the throne and the proximity of the claimant’s wife is a matter of public interest.
“A marriage is a matter of public record; a divorce is a matter of public record. Accordingly, in principle, there are some aspects of a marriage which are inherently public.”
The newspaper claims that the couple are both sporting role models and as a result are of interest to the public.
According to the High Court document, the Sunday Express denies that Tindall has suffered any damage as a result of their story.