Record Out-of-Court Settlement Made to Footballer

What's believed to be a record out-of-court payment for a defamation case in Scotland is reported to have been made, following an action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh by a former Celtic goalkeeper against the News of the World.

BBC Scotland reports that the Sunday tabloid …”fell for an ‘elaborate sting’ over allegations of explicit texts about Artur Boruc”.

Both sides were expected to lead witnesses in court next month, but yesterday judge Lord Woolman was told that the case had been settled.

Says the BBC's website, the paper's publisher has made a full apology and agreed to pay Boruc £70,000.

Says the BBC: “The footballer, who now plays for Italian side Fiorentina, had been wrongly accused of sending a series of explicit messages and a sexual image to a woman while his girlfriend, Sara Manei, was pregnant.

“After lawyers for Boruc and News Group Newspapers agreed the settlement the case was called to consider legal expenses.

“Roddy Dunlop, QC, for News Group, said they thought they had good reason – at the time – to carry the story but had been ‘victim of a highly complex deceit by one man’.”

The BBC quotes Dunlop as saying: “The defenders accept that they were entirely taken in by this fraud but they were not reckless or irresponsible in the beliefs that they held. It was only when the phone details began to emerge that the tissue of lies was revealed.”

The report said that, during the hearing the judge, was told how it appeared that a photo of a man's torso had been 'photo-shopped' to add a distinctive monkey tattoo to the navel. Boruc was known to have such a tattoo.

The report adds that hoaxers had also set up a fake Facebook page and added bogus comments from Boruc's girlfriend which appeared to back up the allegations.

The BBC report explained: “A man posing as Mr Boruc's financial adviser had contacted News of the World executives to discuss the newspaper being granted an exclusive interview with the footballer if they would make the story ‘go away’.

“But the scam unravelled when mobile phone records showed calls had been made from a Glasgow hotel at a time when Mr Boruc had a perfect alibi – he was on holiday in Sardinia.

“Graeme Henderson, for Mr Boruc, said the allegation of sending the explicit messages had been extremely upsetting.

“He said footballers ‘outed’ for misbehavior faced being pilloried by rival fans.”