Stone accepts damages over Mail article

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Actress Sharon Stone today accepted substantial undisclosed damages over a claim that she left her son asleep in a car while she enjoyed a late night dinner at The Ivy restaurant.

The Basic Instinct star was not at London's High Court for the settlement of her libel action against the Daily Mail.

Her solicitor, Rupert Grey, told Mr Justice Eady that the newspaper published the article last June accompanied by a photo, taken through a car windscreen at night, of Stone's son, with his face blanked out, asleep in the back with the driver in the front seat.

It said that Stone had left the four-year-old asleep in a car with her driver for more than two hours outside The Ivy while she enjoyed a late-night dinner date with what it described as a "mystery male companion".

Mr Grey said that it included various remarks critical of her for doing so, said that the boy was likely to be uncomfortable in the heat and traumatised by paparazzi flash photography.

"The article conveyed the clear allegation that Sharon Stone had neglected her son in a shameful and selfish way."

The behaviour ascribed to the actress was subsequently reported in other newspapers in the UK and worldwide.

The next month the Daily Mail published another article - "Sharon's dinner date and this time her baby goes too" - which was accompanied by a photo of her carrying her other son, who is two months old, in a carry-cot outside a restaurant.

It reminded readers that three weeks before, Miss Stone had attracted criticism when she left her other son in her car with a minder as she enjoyed a late night meal at The Ivy.

Mr Grey said that the allegations in the first article, and repeated in the second, were completely untrue.

Far from leaving her son outside in the car for two hours - or at all - they had dinner together inside the restaurant. It was their last night together before her son flew back to America the following day.

Neither was there a shred of truth in the allegation that Miss Stone was having a late-night dinner date with a "mystery male companion".

Mr Grey said that Miss Stone was appalled to find these allegations appearing in the Daily Mail and then repeated elsewhere in the media.

She had no option but to issue the claim for libel to set the record straight.

Had it proceeded to trial she would have called evidence from numerous witnesses to demonstrate that her son had dinner with her that night and that he was not left in the car outside.

Those witnesses would have included members of her security team, her driver, staff at The Ivy, and friends dining with her.

Mr Grey said that Miss Stone had accepted a substantial sum in damages which she proposed to give to charity.

She was content to accept this, together with her costs, in view of the apology which the newspaper was to provide in open court.

Kirsty Howarth, solicitor for Associated Newspapers, said that it published the articles in good faith on the basis of information with which it had been provided and which at the time it had no reason to doubt.

However, it was now happy to accept that the allegation was untrue. It withdrew it unreservedly and apologised for the distress and embarrassment caused.