The Times to pay Mike Ashley ‘substantial damages’ after defamatory story

Mike Ashley
Mike Ashley challenged Debenhams' CVA
// Mike Ashley had taken The Times to court following a “highly defamatory article” The Times published in 2020.
// Times Newspapers Limited has accepted that any allegations of wrongdoing by Ashley are untrue and agreed to pay the tycoon “substantial damages”

The Times newspaper publisher has apologised to Mike Ashley and agreed to pay him “substantial damages” over what Frasers Group termed a “highly defamatory article” that was published in July 2020.

The article had claimed that Ashley’s phone records were “protected” during a High Court battle with investment banker Jeffrey Blue.

The High Court in London was told on Wednesday that the publisher of The Times had issued an apology and retraction over the article, and had agreed to pay damages.

READ MORE: What next for Studio Retail under Mike Ashley?

“The false allegations of wrongdoing against me were unrestrainedly published on the front page of The Times but did not contain a shred of truth,” Ashley said. “This was a disgraceful and irresponsible piece of comic book journalism.”

Adam Speker QC, representing Ashley said the stories were entitled “Stars’ phone records ‘fixed’”, “How co-owner tries to mine Ashley court case” and “Two arrested in ‘phone fixing case’”.

He told the court that Times Newspapers had reported “in the context of an investigation into the activities of the mobile telephone company Sport Mobile” that “its founder had claimed that his company had ‘protected’ Mike Ashley’s phone records” in the context of 2017 High Court proceedings involving Ashley and Blue.

Speker told the hearing that the publisher “confirmed it did not intend to make these claims” and had made “a formal offer of amends that was accepted by Mr Ashley”.

“It has published an apology and retraction and it has agreed to pay substantial damages to Mr Ashley as well as his legal costs.”

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