'No basis to accuse Imogen Thomas of blackmail', admits Ryan Giggs

 

There was no basis to accuse reality star Imogen Thomas of blackmailing Ryan Giggs, a court heard today.

Ms Thomas, 28, who is said to have had an affair with Giggs, was at London's High Court to hear her advocate David Price QC read a statement in the case of CTB against News Group Newspapers (NGN) and Imogen Thomas.

Lawyers for CTB and NGN did not attend the hearing in front of Mr Justice Eady who, earlier this year, refused to allow the media to name CTB.

Today's proceedings have no effect on the injunction won by the soccer star, which prohibits publication by the media of private information.

At the start of this morning's brief hearing, the anonymity of CTB was not formally lifted but the judge gave a clear indication when he put to Mr Price: "There is no longer any point in maintaining the anonymity?"

Mr Price said he was not in a position to answer and read the statement, which continued to refer to CTB.

Lawyers emphasised later that the injunction preventing Ms Thomas revealing details about the alleged relationship remained in place and that, as part of the resolution of CTB's claim against her, she had agreed to be bound by a final order in similar terms to the existing injunction.

Afterwards, Ms Thomas said: "To suddenly have to defend my character because of this legal process has been extremely upsetting and stressful.

"I'm just relieved that the parties and the court now accept that I'm no blackmailer. I have been vindicated and that's all I wanted.

"I have nothing to add - it's all behind me now."

Mr Price told the court that the claim arose out of an article in The Sun on April 14, which named Ms Thomas but did not name CTB.

As a result of concerns about the future conduct of The Sun, CTB sought an interim injunction later that day.

"In his witness statement supporting the application, CTB stated that Ms Thomas's conduct had led him to suspect that she was thinking of selling her story to the press.

"He also said that she had asked him for money to assist in the purchase of a flat and that he had become suspicious about her motivation.

"He was also concerned that she had retained the well-known publicist Max Clifford to represent her.

"On April 14 Mr Justice Eady granted an injunction. Ms Thomas was not notified of the hearing and first found out about the injunction after it was granted.

"On May 16 Mr Justice Eady delivered a judgment in which he explained his reasons for granting the injunction in Ms Thomas's absence and for its continuation.

"The judge said that CTB's evidence appeared to suggest that CTB was being blackmailed, although that was not how CTB had put it himself.

"He also said that the evidence appeared to indicate that Ms Thomas was responsible for the April 14 article in The Sun. The judge stressed that this was solely based on the limited evidence that was before him at the time and that the allegations were denied by Ms Thomas.

"Notwithstanding these qualifications in the judgment, the allegation of blackmail was widely and prominently reported by the media as if it were established fact.

"This was not correct. It has been extremely damaging and distressing to Ms Thomas."

Mr Price went on: "The Sun has now made it clear that Ms Thomas was not responsible for the article of April 14.

"CTB accepts this and also accepts that Ms Thomas did not wish any private information to be published. She had, in fact, retained Max Clifford to try to prevent a story from coming out.

"Ms Thomas, in turn, accepts that the decision to publish her name was taken by The Sun, and that CTB did not want that to happen.

"Ms Thomas denies that she asked CTB for money and says that he offered to assist her in the flat purchase. Whatever the difference in recollection between the parties, CTB now accepts that such discussions were not linked to any threat to disclose information to the media.

"In these circumstances, CTB accepts that there is no basis to accuse Ms Thomas of blackmail. He also accepts that her conduct in the period leading up to the publication of the Sun article was motivated by a desire to avoid the publication of private information.

"CTB and Ms Thomas have now resolved matters between them. Ms Thomas did not want to disclose private information concerning CTB. That remains her position now that the record has been set straight."

PA

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