Kewell was 'cut down' by Lineker's comments

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The Independent Online

Gary Lineker was accused yesterday of "scything down" Harry Kewell in a newspaper column that criticised the Liverpool player's £5m transfer to Leeds United.

Gary Lineker was accused yesterday of "scything down" Harry Kewell in a newspaper column that criticised the Liverpool player's £5m transfer to Leeds United.

The High Court heard that, in writing the piece in The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Lineker had in effect "charged on to [the] pitch and cut down Harry Kewell, causing serious injury to his reputation and feelings".

The claims came from Andrew Munson, representing Mr Kewell in a libel action prompted by Mr Lineker's column the week after the player moved to Liverpool in July 2003, a deal which earned Mr Kewell's agent, Bernie Mandic, £2m.

Concluding the prosecution's case, Mr Munson said: "Making defamatory attacks in print is not familiar territory for television's Mr Nice Guy. Mr Lineker is confused not only about the transfer deal but also about the rules of journalism.

"A columnist that makes a defamatory attack is in the same position as a footballer who lunges at an opposing player in an effort to take the ball off him."

Heather Rogers, representing Mr Lineker, claimed he intended not to attack Mr Kewell but to address problems in the transfer market. She said: "You have two footballers - both care about the reputation of the game. She rejected claims that the article was defamatory, saying the "ordinary" reader of The Sunday Telegraph would have realised it was a comment piece and not a "fearless exposé" by an investigative journalist.

The jury is expected to begin considering its verdict today.