'Telegraph' loses brainwashing case

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A psychic healer and her barrister husband yesterday won pounds 350,000 High Court libel damages against the Daily Telegraph over a claim that they brainwashed a solicitor into leaving his family.

Richard Wilmot-Smith QC, 44, and his wife, Jenny, 48, sued over a March 1995 article - Dark Side of the New Age - about "a case of alternative therapy that left a happy family in tatters".

Stephen Kirby, 41, a solicitor, separated from his wife, Clare, 10 months after he consulted Mrs Wilmot-Smith over his bad headaches. The Wilmot-Smiths claimed the story meant they had brainwashed him. The newspaper and Clare Kirby denied libel, pleading justification. The jury found in the couple's favour, awarding Mr Wilmot-Smith pounds 250,000 and his wife pounds 100,000. Mr Kirby will have his damages assessed tomorrow after the jury also found in his favour on liability.