Robbie Williams wins 'secret homosexual' libel case

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The Independent Online

Robbie Williams accepted substantial undisclosed libel damages today over claims that he was a secret homosexual.

The singer-songwriter was not at London's High Court for the settlement of his action against MGN Limited and Northern & Shell plc.

His counsel, Tom Shields QC, told Mr Justice Eady that, as the defendants now accepted, none of the allegations were true.

He said: "Mr Williams is not, and has never been, homosexual."

Mr Shields said that last summer a book entitled Feel was published, which was described as Williams' autobiography.

It was, in fact, an account of his life told, with his co-operation, by Chris Heath, who had lived alongside Williams from 2002 to 2004.

Counsel said that shortly before publication, MGN published on the front page of The People, in August 2004, a story headlined "Robbie's secret gay lover".

It suggested that Williams was about to deceive the public by pretending that his only sexual relations had been with women when in reality he was a homosexual who had engaged in casual and sordid homosexual encounters with strangers.

It claimed he had enticed a stranger into a toilet at a club in Manchester where the two men performed a sex act on each other and where Williams requested that stranger to engage in a further sex act.

It was also alleged that a year later Williams had tried to persuade the same man and then that man's friend to engage in similar conduct at another Manchester club and that, when rebuffed, he had gone on to engage in a sexual encounter with another stranger in the streets behind the club.

Mr Shields said none of the allegations was true and Williams was not and never had been homosexual.

"Accordingly, the book Feel did not lie about his sexuality."

Mr Shields said that in September 2004, Northern & Shell plc published in Star magazine, and Hot Stars magazine, articles headed "Did Robbie have a secret gay fling?"

These claimed that Williams had a sexual encounter with another man in the toilet of a club in Manchester and had subsequently made a pass at the same man in a different club.

The articles suggested that while Williams had told all about his female conquests in Feel he was keeping secret his homosexual encounters.

Mr Shields said again that as the allegations were untrue and Williams was not homosexual, he did not attempt to conceal his true sexuality in Feel.

He told the judge that in both actions, Williams' complaint was met with an offer to make amends.

"As your Lordship will appreciate, this means that the defendant accepts that these allegations were untrue and has agreed to put right the wrong he has been done."

As part of that process, each defendant had published a prominent apology and had agreed to pay Williams substantial damages and his legal costs.

Zoe Norden, solicitor for MGN and Northern & Shell, said: "I accept that the allegations to which my friend has referred were untrue. The defendant apologises to the claimant and expresses its regret for the injury and distress caused."