Mail apologises over Powers libel

High Court: Actress earns 'substantial' damages over adultery claims
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The Independent Online

Media Correspondent

Stefanie Powers, star of the hit television series Hart to Hart, yesterday earned undisclosed "substantial" damages and a public apology from the Daily Mail over allegations that she sexually harassed a former employee, committed adultery and was an alcoholic.

Ms Powers, 52, who co-starred in the series with Robert Wagner and a dog called Freeway, was not in the High Court to hear the settlement of her action against the newspaper. Nigel Forsyth, representing Ms Powers, told Mr Justice Morland that the article, which the Mail published on 23 May this year, had been "gravely defamatory".

The paper reported allegations made in a Los Angeles court by Brian Quintana, who had been hired by Ms Powers to promote a polo match to raise funds for a wildlife charity she established in 1982 in memory of her former husband, the late actor William Holden.

Ms Powers, who is now married to Patrick de la Chesnais, a French biologist , has continued acting, but devotes most of her time to the wildlife foundation.

According to Mr Forsyth, the article said that "she had been guilty of sexually harassing and assaulting Mr Quintana in the most crude and demeaning fashion and had committed adultery. It was also alleged that Ms Powers was an alcoholic."

The article had claimed that Ms Powers put her hand down Mr Quintana's trousers and demanded sex. When he refused, the paper said she kneed him in the groin and shouted: "You know you want this."

Mr Forsyth continued: "All of these highly offensive allegations were untrue, as the Daily Mail accepts."

Caroline Kean, the Daily Mail's solicitor, said that the newspaper group had agreed to pay Ms Powers substantial damages and her legal costs in settlement.

The newspaper, she continued, "wholeheartedly accepted" Ms Powers's assurances that "she is wholly innocent of the allegations. The Daily Mail deeply regrets giving currency to the allegations made in California and apologises for the distress and embarrassment which she has been caused."