A jury at the High Court awarded damages of pounds 70,000 to Mr Fallon, pounds 75,000 to Mrs Ramsden and pounds 50,000 to Mr Ramsden. With costs, the estimated bill for the Sporting Life is expected to reach almost pounds 700,000.
The plaintiffs had sued over an article on 11 May 1995, the day after Top Cees, trained by Mrs Ramsden and ridden by Mr Fallon, had won the Chester Cup. In a comment column under the headline "Contempt For The Punter" written by Alastair Down, the newspaper's associate editor, it was alleged that the Ramsdens and Mr Fallon had been "cheating" when the same horse finished fifth in a race at Newmarket three weeks earlier.
Yesterday, the jury decided that the words complained of were neither substantially true nor fair comment.
During the trial, Derek Thompson, a Channel 4 racing presenter, told the court of a conversation in which Mr Fallon had admitted "pulling" Top Cees at Newmarket. Mr Fallon described Mr Thompson's story as a "lie" when he returned to the witness stand.
Tom Clarke, editor of the Sporting Life, said: "The case was fought on a matter of principle by the Sporting Life in its capacity as a guardian of the punters' interests. We think it is a sad day for racing but do not regret defending this action for one moment."
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