Ashley Cole sues over 'gay' report

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The Independent Online

England footballer Ashley Cole is suing The Sun and the News of the World over claims that two Premiership players indulged in a "gay sex orgy".

He has filed writs for harassment, breach of privacy and libel. The libel part of the claim is unusual because the Arsenal defender has not been named in any of the stories. In a story published on 12 February, the News of the World claimed "two bisexual stars made some very dirty phone calls - using a mobile phone as a gay sex toy." The story did not name the players.

The newspaper published a follow-up story on 19 February, and similar allegations appeared in The Sun. The articles fuelled internet speculation over the identities of the players.

Legal experts said the privacy part of the claim relied on an untested concept known as "false privacy". Cole will say his privacy has been invaded, even though he says he is not gay.

The libel part of the claim will give the media an indication of how safe they are to run allegations against unnamed parties, when the public is able to work out the identity after hints in any public reports.