Tuesday 18 October 2011

Daily Mail to pay 'substantial' damages to Lady Kristina Moore

In March, the Press Gazette reported that Lady Kristina Moore, wife of Sir Roger Moore, was 'demanding damages' from the Daily Mail over a diary item by Ephraim Hardcastle on 8 October 2010:

"Playboy Taki Theodoracopulos, 74, says a great love of his life was Kiki, a gorgeous Swede with whom he lived at the Hotel du Cap in 1958. Their affair ended when he found she had been given 'a fortune in French francs' by a 'disgusting' 90-year-old Frenchman.

"His story [in The Spectator] is bound to send the famously-mobile eyebrows of The Saint and James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore into overdrive.

"A 'stunning' Swedish beauty called Kiki - 'even Gianni Agnelli gave her a whirl' - who went on to marry a rich man?

"Surely Taki isn't referring to Sir Roger's fourth wife, the former Kristina Tholstrup, pictured? Lady Moore, 71, is known as Kiki, did knock around the French Riviera in her youth and did end up 'very well off' (after marrying three rich men, including Sir Roger)."

And so:

Lady Kristina Moore, who is known as Kiki, claims the story suggested she had an affair with Taki Theodoracopulos in the 1950s then left him because a wealthy 90-year-old Frenchman offered a fortune to sleep with her.

According to a writ filed at the High Court, the story also claimed Lady Moore behaved in a “meretricious and promiscuous manner” by “knocking” around the French Riviera chasing wealthy men.

It continues:

She is seeking aggravated damages, citing the highly offensive and damaging nature of the allegations and stating that no effort was made to check the story with her first.

If the paper had checked with her, or with Theodoracopulos, it would have discovered the claims were completely untrue, the writ claims, as the woman referred to as Kiki in the story was someone completely different...

In addition, the writ says, the paper has published a statement from Theodoracopulos confirming the allegations were false and that he was referring to a different Kiki.

And according to the writ, the response of the Mail was:

the paper has refused to accept the story was defamatory of her, or to admit liability, let alone apologise for the distressed caused to her.

Today, the Daily Mail agreed to pay Lady Moore 'substantial' damages:

"The allegations published by the newspaper on 8 October 2010 are completely untrue and seriously defamatory of Lady Moore," Catherine Rhind, of Harbottle & Lewis, said in a statement in open court.

"The true position is that Lady Moore was 18 in 1958 and was living in Sweden with her mother and father and at that time had never visited France," Rhind added.

"She could not therefore have been the person to whom Taki was referring as has indeed since been confirmed by Taki who has acknowledged that he was in fact writing about somebody entirely different."

Rhind said that the Daily Mail had not checked the accuracy of the story with Moore before publication, "despite the serious nature of what was claimed". After Theodoracopulos made clear that he was not referring to Moore, the paper published another Ephraim Hardcastle diary item admitting it had been wrong to make the suggestion.

This admission came four days after the original was printed. They admitted they were wrong to make the suggestion, but apparently did not apologise for doing so.


Associated Newspapers had agreed to pay Moore an undisclosed substantial sum in damages plus costs, and also agreed not to repeat the allegations.

A lawyer acting for Associated Newspapers told the high court: "The defendant acknowledges that the allegations made against Lady Moore are untrue and is happy to give the undertakings referred to. As the claimant's solicitor has confirmed, the Daily Mail corrected the matter in the Ephraim Hardcastle column at the first available opportunity. The defendant apologises for the distress and embarrassment caused to both Lady Moore and Sir Roger Moore."

UPDATE: The Mail has apologised in Wednesday's 'Clarifications and corrections' column:

The Daily Mail apologised in court yesterday for wrongly identifying, in a one-paragraph item in the Ephraim Hardcastle column, Lady Moore, the wife of Sir Roger Moore, as the subject of a Spectator column by Taki about a Swedish beauty who had courted rich men on the French Riviera in the 1950s.

We accepted that Lady Moore was not the person to whom Taki was referring and have agreed to pay damages and costs.

Why the need to say it was only a 'one-paragraph item'?

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