'People' apologises for Chegwin bribe claims

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The Independent Online

The television entertainer Keith Chegwin accepted a public apology yesterday over a tabloid newspaper claim that he hatched a plot to bribe a police officer. Mr Chegwin brought libel proceedings in the High Court againstThe People about an article published in January.

The front-page piece said Mr Chegwin plotted to access a police database to obtain confidential details of cars once owned by celebrities for a pilot programme called Stars and their Cars. Mr Chegwin's solicitor David Price said Mr Chegwin was appalled by the "outrageous" allegations. He said Neil Wallis, the former editor of The People, and the newspaper's publishers, MGN, accepted that Mr Chegwin had not tried to break the law.

The court was told that Mr Chegwin's agent approached a detective agency for help in researching the programme. A reporter, acting on behalf of The People and posing as a detective, contacted Mr Chegwin on a number of occasions. Mr Price said: "Mr Chegwin, who never had any intention of bribing anyone, refused to allow money to be offered to an officer to access the [database]." A spokesman for The People said: "They accept that these allegations are false."