Dando murder suspect wins libel damages

Barry George in an undated photo. REUTERS/File

LONDON (Reuters) - Barry George, who was cleared of murdering BBC personality Jill Dando, accepted substantial libel damages on Friday over newspaper reports that he was obsessed with singer Cheryl Cole and news presenter Kay Burley.

George, who spent eight years in jail before he was acquitted of Dando’s murder after a retrial in August 2008, had brought the action over articles in the Sunday Mirror, The People and on the Daily Mirror website in October and November 2008.

His lawyer Gordon Bishop told London’s High Court that the papers had reported that George had downloaded pictures of Sky presenter Burley onto his computer, and that he had claimed that he loved her and she loved him.

It was also claimed he had threatened to pester and harass Cole and those working with her so that he could meet the judge on ITV’s hit “X Factor” show.

Bishop said it was now accepted by the newspapers’ publishers MGN Ltd that all the allegations, together with a claim George had harassed and stalked a nurse, were false.

It had withdrawn them and agreed to pay George substantial undisclosed damages and his legal costs, he said.

MGN’s lawyer Emily Barber said the publisher apologised for any hurt and distress George had felt.

Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison