The Mail should beware. A writ filed at the High Court in London this week claims that its handling, through Chief Executive Peter Kenyon, of the departure of business affairs boss Paul Smith was unprofessional.
Only a few years ago The Times ended up having to pay out £250,000 damages to Southampton FC Chairman Rupert Lowe over claims he had acted 'shabbily' in suspending the club's manager. In that case the claim succeeded even though it was comment by a sports columnist. In the current case the report was reported editorial fact based on an alleged 'cat fight' between Kenyon and Smith's partners.
Both Chelsea FC and Kenyon are claiming loss of reputation and distress as a result of the article and that the supposed spat between their partners was behind Smith's departure. Another aspect of the claim that will not be in the paper's favour is the suggestion that it had not sought response from the club or Kenyon pre-publication. The right to reply and/or putting to the potentially defamed party the facts upon which the story is based are seen as important stepping stones to satisfying the test for the journalism in question as being responsible.
An out of court settlement might be a good option for the Mail here as if it proceeds to trial it could see its legal bill match the precedent set by the Lowe v Times case.