Cat Stevens accepts damages over sexist libel

Yusuf Islam - the singer formally known as Cat Stevens - today accepted substantial undisclosed libel damages over a claim that he was a sexist bigot who refused to speak to any women not wearing a veil.

The Muslim singer-songwriter's solicitor, Adam Tudor, told Mr Justice Eady at London's High Court that the allegations, which appeared in March last year, were entirely false .

"Mr Islam has never had any difficulties working with women, whether for religious or any other reasons.

"In his normal life, women feature among some of the most influential people in Mr Islam's team."

Mr Tudor said that the article was distributed by the agency World Entertainment News Network (WENN) to subscribers, including the website Contactmusic.com, which boats 2.2 million page views a month.

It suggested that Mr Islam was so sexist and bigoted that he refused at an awards ceremony to speak to - or even acknowledge - any women who were not wearing a veil.

It also suggested that his manager had stated: "Mr Islam doesn't speak with women except his wife. Least of all if they don't wear a headscarf. Things like that only happen via an intermediary."

Mr Tudor said this statement was simply never made.

"Unsurprisingly, the article caused Mr Islam considerable embarrassment and distress, particularly given that it had the effect not only of creating an utterly false impression of his attitude to women, but because it cast serious aspersions, quite wrongly, on his religious faith, which is a matter of the utmost importance to him."

He said that WENN and Contactmusic.com Ltd had already published apologies and had agreed to pay substantial damages - which were to be donated to the charity Small Kindness - and Mr Islam's legal costs.

Mr Islam was not in court.

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