'Telegraph' wins Petra Ecclestone libel case

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The Independent Online

The High Court in London yesterday threw out a libel action brought by Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone's daughter.

Petra Ecclestone had complained about an item in The Daily Telegraph's Mandrake diary column in June about the launch of her leather fashion collection, and her alleged reaction to Sir Paul McCartney's call for meat-free Mondays.

It quoted the 21-year-old as saying: "I am not a veggie and I don't have much time for people like the McCartneys and Annie Lennox." Ms Ecclestone disputed ever saying it – and claimed it was libellous as it meant that she was disrespectful and dismissive of the McCartneys and the singer to the point of being willing to disparage them publicly for promoting vegetarianism.

She sued for damages, including aggravated damages, to reflect Telegraph Media Group's refusal to apologise and its assertion that the item was not capable of being defamatory. Ms Ecclestone's counsel, Manuel Barca, argued that the piece reflected badly on Ms Ecclestone, who, the reader might conclude, was a callow and spoiled youth making dismissive remarks about her elders and betters.

Striking out the claim, Mrs Justice Sharp said that she simply did not think the item was capable of lowering Ms Ecclestone in the estimation of right-thinking members of society.

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