The Chelsea premiership footballer Michael Essien, represented by London law firm Schillings, has won his libel claim (Case number HQ09X02164) against the People newspaper.
Libel proceedings were issued against MGN Limited, the publisher of the People newspaper, following the publication of two articles. The first article, published on 25 May 2008, carried the headline “Chelsea Cheat Michael Essien: I’ll Stand by my Love Child”. This was followed by another article on 3 May 2009 under the headline “Sex Cheat Star Essien Gets Boot”.
The articles claimed that Mr Essien had cheated on his long term partner by having numerous affairs with other women and fathered a child behind his partner’s back. As a result, his partner had called off their wedding. These allegations were found to be false and grossly defamatory towards Mr Essien.
The People has accepted that these allegations are untrue, and has paid Mr Essien substantial damages as well as agreeing to pay his legal costs. The People have also undertaken not to repeat the allegations.
In its apology, the People said: “On 25 May 2008 and 3 May 2009 we reported that Michael Essien had cheated on his long term girlfriend Nadia Buari by having numerous affairs behind her back including one in which he fathered a child. On 3 May we reported that as a result of his behaviour Ms Buari called their wedding off. We now accept that these allegations are untrue. We apologise to Mr Essien for any distress or embarrassment caused.”
A representative of Schillings who represented Michael Essien said: “There has been a lot of inaccurate reporting concerning Michael and he was not prepared to allow this misreporting to continue.”
Schillings also said that, “these allegations were not put to Michael or his representatives prior to publication and had the People done so they would have been informed of their utter falsity.”
Caroline McAteer of The Sports PR Company said on behalf of Michael Essien: “Michael is delighted to have won his case and to have set the record straight. He would have preferred not to take action, but had no alternative in this case. Michael is pleased that this matter has now been resolved.”