Jury takes pounds 69 position on sex slurs

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

A MILLIONAIRE businessman who was slandered by his former wife when she claimed he gave her a sexually transmitted disease was awarded pounds 69 damages yesterday - the price of a bottle of champagne in the Dutch sex clubs he had visited.

The judge hearing the case at the High Court in London, Mr Justice Drake, said the jury's award to David Wraith could properly be called 'derisory'. He said the case should never have come to court and ruled that Mr Wraith and his former wife, Shirley, should pay their own costs out of a bill unofficially estimated at up to pounds 500,000.

Remarking on the 'sharp' sense of humour demonstrated by the jury - the sexual significance of the figure is believed to have played a part in their deliberations - Gilbert Gray QC, counsel for Mrs Wraith, said the award was the price of 'a bottle of bubbly in an Amsterdam brothel'.

The jury's lighthearted approach to the case belied the tone of the 10-day trial which opened up the private lives of the couple in the most humiliating way.

Mr Wraith, 48, a former chairman of Scunthorpe United football club, was cross-examined about an alleged sexual infection, while his ex-wife endured evidence from her son, who took sides with his father, telling the court how his mother had beaten him with the cane of a feather duster when he was 13. She had left the courtroom while he was giving evidence, collapsing face down in the corridor outside.

The jury of 10 men and two women took five hours to decide unanimously that Mrs Wraith, 49, had slandered her husband of 22 years.

But they decided, again unanimously, that she had not slandered Mr Wraith by accusing him of insider dealing, and dishonesty over the proceeds of the sale of their Majorcan property and her Porsche. She had denied ever making the allegations. They also found, by a majority of 10 to 2, that she had not made nuisance phone calls to Mr Wraith's home in Brampton, Lincolnshire.

During the case Mr Wraith had given evidence about how he bought pounds 70 bottles of champagne in Amsterdam night clubs.

After the verdict, Mrs Wraith declared herself happy with the outcome, while her ex-husband declined to comment.

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