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'Substantial' damages paid after regional press libel

A regional newspaper has agreed to pay a top racehorse trainer undisclosed libel damages following a story about the sale of an animal.

Paul D’Arcy had brought libel proceedings in London’s High Court over a claim that he acted unprofessionally over the sale.

It followed a June 2003 article in the Ipswich Evening Star.

His advocate, Graham Atkins, told Mr Justice Gray that Mr D’Arcy had, since October 2001, been the trainer of a horse called Indian Haven.

He also owned a share in the animal until October 2002 when the horse – which won the Irish 2000 Guineas in May 2003 – was sold.

Mr Atkins said that the article suggested that there were grounds to suspect that Mr D’Arcy had conducted himself “unprofessionally, unlawfully and disgracefully” in connection with the sale, and had acted in flagrant disregard of the interest of his co-owner, former footballer Alan Brazil – who in fact was never a registered owner of the animal.

Mr Atkins said that there was no basis at all for these false statements. Mr D’Arcy acted at all times with total propriety and professionalism.

Ben Mawson, counsel for publishers Archant Limited, apologised for the damaging allegations, which it withdrew.

It accepted that Mr D’Arcy had always acted entirely professionally and lawfully in his business dealings and in particular relating to the sale of Indian Haven.

It had agreed to pay Mr D’Arcy substantial damages together with his legal costs.

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