Celebrity chef wins damages over claims of drink and drugs binge

The celebrity chef Marco Pierre White won £75,000 High Court libel damages yesterday because two newspapers wrongly claimed he had a binge of drink and drugs.

The judge ordered The New York Times and International Herald Tribune to pay the costs of the three-day hearing, unofficially estimated at £480,000, and to make an interim payment of £160,000 which Mr White, 38, had already given to his solicitors.

Mr White, who marries his long-time girlfriend Mati tomorrow, said he had been defamed in 1998 with a "bombshell" sentence claiming he had a "well-publicised bout with drugs and alcohol".

The chef, of Curzon Street, Mayfair, central London, told the court he was angered and upset. He "very rarely" drank and might have a glass of wine "from time to time" during a social occasion. He added: "I have never taken drugs in my life. I object to drugs. It is just something I don't approve of. I think it's very destructive."

The newspapers accepted there was no truth in their allegation. But they said the article did not defame him because it did not lower his reputation as a chef or abusinessman.

The jury awarded Mr White £15,000 against The New York Times and £60,000 against the International Herald Tribune.

Mr White's counsel, George Carman QC, had said: "It is for me to say of him - but I'm sure he wouldn't say it of himself - he is probably the most outstanding and distinguished restaurateur and chef this country has produced in the last 25 years."

Immense talent, virtually unremitting hard work, ambition and complete passion had brought him success in "full measure". He was the youngest chef to obtain three Michelin stars and the "only Englishman to be so honoured in the gastronomic world".

Mr Carman said the papers hired detectives to dig up any "dirt" on him, stories of "sex and drugs and rock and roll".

Geoffrey Robertson QC, for the newspapers, claimed most of the article was "very positive" and suggested it had enhanced Mr White's reputation, showing he had become "a star in his own firmament".

Lawyers for the papers said they would appeal.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power