Ashby case judge sets damages limit

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The Independent Online
A High Court judge recommended that a jury should award David Ashby, the Tory MP, no less than pounds 50,000 and no more than pounds 120,000 in his libel case against the Sunday Times, should they find in his favour in the case, in which he denies he is homosexual.

Mr Justice Morland is the first judge to use the new power of laying guidelines for compensations to the jury.

He suggested that any award made to Mr Ashby should not be a windfall or a bonus, but fair and reasonable.

The jury failed to reach a verdict on the 20th day of the case yesterday after four hours, and asked to see a video again which showed Mr Ashby, 55, leaving a block of flats.

After hearing evidence from the Ashby family, Mr Justice Morland said that the jury must have felt at times they were trying an old-style cruelty petition in a divorce court.

"You have been witnessing a family really exposing misery in the full glare of publicity. You've heard the details of verbal abuse, physical abuse, between husband and wife - both claim to still love each other very much, although they have given evidence on opposite sides," he said.

The jurors were sent home by Mr Justice Morland to resume their deliberations today.

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