Elton John sues paper over report of bizarre diet: Singer tells of counselling for three addictions

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The Independent Online
THE POP STAR Elton John went to court yesterday to challenge a newspaper claim that he was hooked on a bizarre diet in which he spat out food without swallowing.

Mr John, 46, described the article in the Sunday Mirror as 'malicious'. 'They knew my addictions are a thing of the past . . . yet they still published it,' he said.

The singer-songwriter told a libel jury at the High Court in London how he took a year off work to get treatment and counselling in an effort to curb his drug, alcohol and food addiction - attending up to three sessions a day. He said the article implied that he had had a relapse: 'It made it look like I am not earnest in what I am doing . . . when it is the most earnest thing I have done in my life.'

The report, which appeared last December, said Mr John had been seen chewing snacks and then spitting them out into a napkin at a Hollywood party. He is quoted as saying: 'I love food. I love to eat. But what is the point of swallowing? You can't taste it when it goes down your throat.'

Mr John said he was 2,000 miles away at home in Atlanta at the time he was alleged to have been at the party. Mirror Group Newspapers admits the story was untrue, but denies libel. It says it was a case of mistaken identity, a claim which the singer rejects.

Mr John, who has brought out 35 albums, is claiming compensation for hurt and distress and for the damage to his 'good name and reputation', plus exemplary damages.

George Carman QC, for the singer, said the article pilloried Mr John as a 'sham' and a 'failure'. He told the jury: 'For someone to have fought and won, to have held out his own battle against addiction as an example and lifeline of hope to others, the most cruel blow of all is to be pilloried and accused falsely of being a sham and a hypocrite.'

Mr John told the court how 16 years of his life had been 'made a hell', by his drug and alcohol addiction and his eating disorder. In 1990, he admitted himself to the Lutheran General Hospital in Chicago for six weeks after his mother had moved to Spain because of his addiction.

'The single most worthwhile and difficult thing I have done in my life was to admit that I had a problem with food, drugs and alcohol and begin the recovery process,' he told the jury.

The case continues today.

(Photograph omitted)