Beckhams settle case over their private lives and Andrew Morton

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The Independent Online

Britain's most publicised couple settled a High Court case yesterday against the biographer Andrew Morton and his publishers over disclosure of details of their private lives in his forthcoming book.

Britain's most publicised couple settled a High Court case yesterday against the biographer Andrew Morton and his publishers over disclosure of details of their private lives in his forthcoming book.

Michael Tugendhat QC, for David and Victoria Beckham, told the court the settlement "in no way implies Mr and Mrs Beckham endorse or in any way approve of the contents" of his unauthorised biography Posh and Becks. But they had accepted legal advice on "what the law permits to be published in respect to certain passages".

Mr Morton is the author of the controversial biography Diana: Her True Story about the late Princess of Wales. The settlement cleared the way for his latest book to be published in October, overcoming the Beckhams' objections to large sections of Mr Morton's 60,000-word manuscript.

Geoffrey Robertson QC, for Mr Morton and publisher Michael O'Mara Books, told Mr Justice Evans-Lombe: "This will, of course, be an unauthorised biography of the claimants, who may not agree with its contents but accept what the law allows in a society which holds fast to free-speech principles."

The case centred on information revealed to Mr Morton by the Beckhams' former bodyguard, Mark Niblett, 40, who parted company in May with the England soccer star and the singer known as Posh Spice.

The judge was told that the couple were still pursuing their damages suit against Mr Niblett in which they accuse him of breaching a confidentiality clause in his employment contract. Mr Niblett is barred from disclosing any further details about the couple and their son, Brooklyn.

His lawyers were in a private hearing yesterday before the judge, relating to a freezing order on money due to Mr Niblett for his part in the preparation of the book. The case was also seen as a battle for the Christmas book market, between the Morton book and the footballer's own book, My World, to be published by Hodder Headline next month.

Mr Tugendhat had told the judge: "We say this is a very bad case of disloyalty and breach of confidentiality on the part of a former employee, very bad indeed, and not very much better on the part of the author and publisher."

But Mr Robertson referred the judge to passages in Mr Morton's written evidence in which he spoke of the public interest in what he had written and pointed to the "self-generated publicity" that the Beckhams had promoted about themselves in the past.

Details of the settlement order were lodged with the court in the form of a confidential agreement between the parties. Mr Robertson said Mr Morton and the publishers were "happy that the action should be disposed of".