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Elton John Wins Libel Suit Over False Dog Attack Statements

By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. on September 27, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

As Sir Elton John so famously said about the press, "They can say I'm a fat, old sod. They can say I'm an untalented bastard. They can call me a poof. But they mustn't lie about me."

Sir Elton John and David Furnish have accepted an apology, undisclosed monetary damages, and legal fees in the libel suit they brought against News Group Newspaper (NGN) over a printed statement that their spaniel inflicted "Freddy Krueger-like injuries" on a five-year-old girl while at their Berkshire estate. The libel statements continue, stating that the girl was "subjected to a serious attack" and that Sir Elton and Furnish had "failed to make any attempt to find out how the little girl was... despite being aware of the incident." According to plaintiffs, nothing could be further from the truth.

Let the Truth Shine on Through

To prevail in a libel suit, plaintiffs need to prove that an untrue statement was made in writing by the defendants, which tarnished the reputation of the plaintiffs. This case stemmed on whether or not the statements were untrue, since the story did appear on the front page story of The Sun on Sunday, one of the defendant's newspapers, in February of 2018. According to the judge in the case, "The truth is that the injuries were not serious, and the claimants, far from ignoring the incident, made several inquiries about the girl's welfare to her father and nanny." And therefore the plaintiffs prevailed.

Lie All You Want -- He's Still Standing

Sir Elton John is no stranger to libel lawsuits, though his dog may be, and he certainly is not afraid to stand up for himself. He has prevailed in multiple libel lawsuits in his lifetime. For example, in 1987, he won 1 million pounds against The Sun for allegations of sex with rent boys. In 1993, he was awarded 325,000 pounds for an untrue story that ran in the Sunday Mirror that said singer-songwriter was hooked on a odd "diet of death" which was a form of bulimia. The award, however, was later reduced.

In June of 2012, Sir John sued Rubert Murdoch over a story in his newspaper headlined, "Screen Play: how movie millions are moved offshore." This story claimed that Sir John evaded taxes by creating off-shore accounts. In that story, the facts were established by Patrick McKenna, who claimed to be Sir John's former accountant, but Sir John had never heard of him. Sir John demanded a retraction, and a small one was consequently made, stating there was no relationship between McKenna and Sir John. Still, Sir John thought that wasn't enough, and sued for damages, but there, he lost.

If you have been the subject of libel or defamation, contact a local defamation lawyer. An experienced attorney can review the facts of your case, and see if you are entitled to compensation, though maybe not as much as Rocket Man.

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