25.8.05

Sun pays out 'substantial' damages for saying 'Spencer' was sacked


Having been warned about privacy intrusion last year, The Sun has been forced to pay 'substantial' damages to actor Chris Parker. Known for his role as Alfie's sidekick, Spencer Moon in EastEnders, Parker left the soap in January after a barrage of press coverage surrounding his personal life.

The press latched on to Parker after the actor attempted suicide last November and when it was confirmed that he had 'agreed' to leave EastEnders, The Sun
pic: BBC/onelife web took the story further by claiming he'd been sacked.

The Sun went on to allege that he was kicked out for refusing to see the soap's appointed psychologist. After the paper refused to apologise for publishing the false claims Parker issued proceedings through his lawyers at The Simkins Partnership who today secured what they descirbed as a 'substantial' pay-out over the story. The Sun has also printed an apology.

The case goes to show that its unwise to make false allegations or speculation, especially when these relate to personal matters such as health. Not only could this be seen as invasive of privacy but where unsubstantiated (as it was in this case), defamatory.

It was made clear in the House of Lords judgment in Naomi Campbell's case against the Mirror that the courts will take a dim view of intrusion into and/or reports of a person's medical condition. The Sun scraped the barrel with their initial coverage of Frank Bruno's psychological troubles but quickly dug themseves out of that potentially large lawsuit.

There's one thing exposing a soap star or celebrity for having been on a drink or drug-fuelled bender - or, if true, an affair (if untrue, then you get sued ...as the Sun was reminded of recently when forced to write out a big cheque to Cameron Diaz) but another to trade off troubles of a personal or psychological nature.

More:
MediaGuardian
BBC announces Parker's departure

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