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An animal rights campaigner accepted substantial undisclosed libel damages yesterday over a newspaper article which portrayed him as a violent thug.

Gareth Krisman, 26, was upset and hurt by the Daily Express report in January last year which "assassinated" his character, the High Court was told. Mr Krisman, of Redbridge, Essex, who believed in peaceful protest, had attended a demonstration at Brightlingsea against live exports and was so incensed that, in an uncharacteristic act, he scratched a car owned by a livestock dealer. He was arrested and fined pounds 200, but although he expressed contrition, an article appeared, portraying him as a thug who habitually infiltrated peaceful protests and did not care if people were hurt. It also accused him of being part of a sinister group of veterans of poll tax and Criminal Justice Act riots.