Star chef win £75,000 for libel slur

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The Independent Online

Celebrity chef Marco Pierre White has been awarded £75,000 High Court libel damages over an allegation that he had indulged in a bout of drink and drugs.

Mr White, 38, who is to wed his long-time girlfriend Mati on Friday, was in court with her by his side as the jury announced their verdict at London's Law Courts.

They found that Mr White had been defamed in an article published in two American newspapers within days of each other in May 1998.

He had sued over a "bombshell" sentence in the syndicated article which appeared in the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune alleging that he had had a "well-publicised bout with drink and drugs".

The chef, of Curzon Street, Mayfair, central London, told the court from the witness box that he was angered and upset by the claim.

He said he "very rarely" drank and might have a glass of wine "from time to time" during a social occasion.

"I have never taken drugs in my life. I object to drugs. It is just something I don't approve of. I think it's very destructive," he said.

On the newspaper allegation, Mr White said: "I was very angry. I was very upset. I couldn't believe that it had been written about me."

The court heard that the newspapers had carried out a lengthy investigation and now accepted that there was no truth in the allegation.

But they contested Mr White's claim for libel damages, arguing that the article did not defame him as it did not lower his reputation as a chef or a businessman.

The jury took two and a quarter hours to reach their verdict.

They awarded Mr White £15,000 against the New York Times and £60,000 against the International Herald Tribune.