'Vanessa' aide wins impostors libel case

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A television researcher accused of arranging for impostors to appear on the BBC's Vanessa show has been awarded "five-figure" libel damages in the High Court.

Deborah Price, 25, who now works as a researcher on Cilla Black's Blind Date programme also received a public apology over an article published in The Mirror in February last year concerning the show hosted by Vanessa Feltz.

The newspaper alleged that the researcher not only arranged for impostors to appear on the programme but knew they were not genuine and deliberately tried to deceive her employers and the public.

David Price, Ms Price's solicitor-advocate, told Mr Justice Eady in London that the article "disclosed that several guests who had appeared on the show purporting to relate true-life stories were in fact fakes who had invented the accounts which they presented to viewers".

Ms Price, from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, was the researcher who had arranged for the guests to appear on the show, he said. "The article went on to allege that not only were the guests fakes, but that Ms Price had known that they were fakes and had thereby deliberately deceived her employers and the viewers of the show." But the truth of the matter was that Ms Priceneither knew nor suspected that any of the guests were faked - she took reasonable steps to verify their authenticity, "bearing in mind the time constraints imposed on her by her employers, the BBC", Mr Price said.

"The three faked guestsall admitted that they had sought to deceive Ms Price into believing that they were genuine and stated that they had no reason to believe that Ms Price was aware that they were fakes."

The defendant, MGN Ltd, publisher of The Mirror, now accepts there was no truth in the allegation that Ms Price knew that the guests were impostors.

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