The Sun newspaper has apologised and agreed to pay substantial damages and costs to MEP Den Dover in relation to completely false allegations that he had abused his European Parliamentary allowances.
Statement in Open Court Den Dover and News Group Newspapers Limited
Solicitor for the Claimant My Lord, I appear on behalf of the Claimant, Mr Den Dover, Member of the European Parliament for North West England. My friend appears on behalf of the Defendant, News Group Newspapers Limited, the publisher of The Sun newspaper.
On 14 February 2005 on page 6 of The Sun the Defendant published an article under the heading “SIGN IN, SLOPE OFF” and on page 8 an editorial under the heading “Cash and Dash. As scams go, it’s one of the finest”. The article was also published on The Sun’s web site. In the article and editorial, the Defendant claimed that the Claimant was abusing the EU Parliament daily allowance for MEPs in a calculated and cynical way and immorally claiming tax payers’ cash through the “dodge” or “scam” of “sign in and slope off”.
These allegations against the Claimant were wholly untrue and should never have been published, as the Defendant now recognises.
The truth of the matter is that the Claimant is an extremely hard working MEP. What the Defendant mistook as the Claimant “signing in and sloping off” was in fact him signing in having worked in his office in Brussels all the previous evening through to about 1.30am that morning and then from about 4.30am to 7am. After signing in at about 7.10am to claim his expense allowance, the Claimant travelled to England to spend the entire day until about 9.30pm on MEP related business.
The Defendant also unfairly photographed the Claimant snoozing on the train from Brussels to London. This, however, was not surprising given the small amount of sleep the Claimant had the previous night and that he was still suffering from jet lag, having two days earlier returned from the United States where he had been on European Parliament business.
Not surprisingly, particularly in the circumstances, the Defendant’s allegations caused the Claimant very considerable distress and embarrassment.
The Defendant is now here today publicly to withdraw its allegations and unreservedly to apologise to the Claimant for publishing them. It has agreed to pay the Claimant a substantial sum in compensation, undertaken not to repeat the allegations nor reproduce the photographic images and agreed to pay all the Claimant’s legal costs. It has also already published a fulsome apology in The Sun and on The Sun’s web site. On this basis, the Claimant is content to let the matter rest.
Solicitor for the Defendants
My Lord, I confirm what my friend has said. The Defendant unreservedly withdraws the allegations in question and sincerely apologises to the Claimant for the distress and embarrassment they caused him.
Solicitor for the Claimant
My Lord, it only remains for me to ask for leave for the record to be withdrawn.
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Mr Dover was represented by Alasdair Pepper