Bottomley wins case

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The Independent Online
The Tory MP Peter Bottomley was yesterday awarded pounds 40,000 damages by a High Court jury for libel in an article in the Sunday Express.

Justin Walford, legal adviser to Express Newspapers, which was also ordered to pay an estimated pounds 250,000 costs of the eight-day trial, said an appeal was being considered because of questions raised over press freedom.

Mr Bottomley, 51, MP for Eltham, in south London, was accused in the article last January of betraying the paratrooper Private Lee Clegg, who was in jail for the murder of a joyrider in Northern Ireland, by appearing at a meeting with the leading Sinn Fein figure Martin McGuinness.

The former Northern Ireland minister whose wife, Virginia, is Secretary of State for National Heritage, said: "It would have been possible to have avoided this writ if we had come to some agreement . . . I don't mind criticism . . . but this stopped me doing what I have devoted my life to - ending the violence in Northern Ireland."