Damages for Ramsay over 'faked scenes' claims

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The Independent Online

The television chef Gordon Ramsay and the makers of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares today accepted a total of £75,000 damages over a claim that the TV programme cynically faked scenes to make average restaurants look like public health hazards.

The holder of three Michelin stars was at London's High Court for the settlement of his libel action over a November 2005 story in the Evening Standard.

His solicitor, Keith Schilling, told Mr Justice Eady that it alleged that the show drove some restaurants out of business.

It also alleged that the chef, together with Patricia Llewellyn, managing director of Optomen Television Ltd, and Optomen, were guilty of " gastronomic mendacity" by installing an incompetent chef and fabricating culinary disasters in order to wreck the reputation of Bonapartes restaurant in Silsden, West Yorkshire.

Ramsay said afterwards: "I won't let people write anything they want to about me.

"Even I have limits and on this occasion the line was crossed. I am satisfied with today's apology and am looking forward to future series of Kitchen Nightmares."

Ms Llewellyn commented: "We are extremely happy with today's outcome.

"We pride ourselves on the programmes we produce. We felt an obligation to make a legal complaint when false allegations about one of our programmes were published.

"The matter has today been satisfactorily concluded."

Mr Schilling said that Ramsay and Ms Llewellyn suffered a great deal of distress in respect of the article, which directly attacked their integrity and credibility.

All three claimants suffered damage to their reputations.

He said that Associated Newspapers and journalist Victor Lewis-Smith now understood and accepted that the allegations were untrue and that the Bonapartes programme - in April 2004 - portrayed throughout an accurate picture of the restaurant and its operations.

"No scenes had been faked, the kitchen was indeed untidy and a health hazard, the restaurant was already in financial difficulty before the programme was filmed, and the chef was not installed by the claimants."

In fact, it was the chef who first contacted them in relation to participation in the programme.

Mr Schilling said that the newspaper had agreed to publish a prominent apology and pay a substantial sum in damages to each of the claimants, together with their legal costs.

The newspaper's counsel, Adam Cannon, apologised for the distress and embarrassment caused by the article, which they accepted was false.

It is understood that the damages and costs together total more than £100,000.