Venables settles libel action

DAVID HELLIER

Terry Venables yesterday reached a last-minute libel settlement with Tony Berry, the Tottenham deputy chairman, over an allegation contained in the England coach's book, Venables, The Autobiography, first published in October 1994.

The High Court in London heard yesterday that Berry was "incensed and embarrassed" by the allegation he had paid pounds 20,000 for documents stolen from one of Venables' companies. Berry, a Tottenham director for eight years, never had any such documents or paid any money for such documents, his counsel said in a statement read out in open court.

Having accepted they had wrongly implicated Berry in acquiring stolen documents, Venables, the publishers Michael Joseph and Associated Newspapers (who had serialised the book in the Mail on Sunday) are thought to have paid Berry around pounds 50,000 in damages. In all, the legal costs are believed to be about pounds 200,000.

Venables awaits a further libel trial, set for this time next year, when Alan Sugar, the Tottenham chairman, intends to sue over allegations made about him in the same book. Venables' counsel, Lord Williams QC, said his client's intention in writing his book was to protect his reputation by answering allegations made against him.

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