April 27, 2006

Sharon Stone accepts libel damages from UK paper

LONDON (Reuters) - Hollywood star Sharon Stone accepted an
apology and "substantial" libel damages at London's High Court
on Thursday over a newspaper story saying she left her
4-year-old son in a car while dining in a restaurant.

A Daily Mail story last June said Stone had enjoyed a late
night dinner date at The Ivy restaurant in central London with
what it called a "mystery male companion" while her son was
left sleeping in a car with her driver for more than two hours.

Stone's solicitor Rupert Gray told the court the article
said the boy was likely to be uncomfortable in the heat and
traumatized by paparazzi flash photography and had included
remarks critical of Stone.

"The article conveyed the clear allegation that Sharon
Stone had neglected her son in a shameful and selfish way," he

Gray said the allegations in the article, which were
repeated in a later article by the newspaper and echoed by
other media in the UK and worldwide, were completely untrue.

Far from leaving her son outside in the car, they had had
dinner together inside the restaurant before her son flew back
to the United States the following day, Gray said.

Neither was there a shred of truth in the allegation that
Stone was dining with a "mystery male companion," he said.

Gray said Stone was appalled by the allegations.

She had accepted a substantial, undisclosed sum in damages
which she proposed to give to charity, her solicitor said. She
was content to accept this, together with her costs, in view of
the apology which the newspaper was to provide in open court.

Kirsty Howarth, solicitor for the Mail's publisher,
Associated Newspapers, said it had published the articles in
good faith on the basis of information which it had been
provided with and which at the time it had no reason to doubt.

The paper was now happy to accept that the allegation was
untrue. It withdrew it unreservedly and apologized for the
distress and embarrassment caused.

The Mail story had been accompanied by a photo taken at
night through a car windshield of the "Basic Instinct" star's
son asleep in the back, with his face blanked out, and with a
driver in the front seat.