Entertainment & Arts

Matt Lucas accepts Daily Star damages

Matt Lucas and Kevin McGee
Image caption Matt Lucas and Kevin McGee's civil partnership was dissolved in 2008

Matt Lucas has accepted undisclosed damages over articles published by the Daily Star after the death of his former civil partner, Kevin McGee.

The High Court heard the paper had "without foundation" published articles alleging the Little Britain star had been placed on suicide watch.

It also suggested they split up because of Mr McGee's cocaine use, it heard.

Express Newspapers apologised for invading Mr Lucas's privacy and for any distress caused by the articles.

The newspaper group's solicitor, Zoe Norden, said it had also agreed to pay the entertainer's legal costs.

'Hurt aggravated'

Lucas's solicitor, John Kelly, told Mr Justice Tugendhat that after Mr McGee had been found dead at his flat in Edinburgh, the comedian had asked the media to respect his privacy.

Despite this, Mr Kelly said, the Daily Star published an article suggesting Mr Lucas was on suicide watch.

The same piece also said Mr Lucas had found a new boyfriend and had chosen to move on, he added.

"Such claims are wholly without foundation, and publishing these false claims at this time considerably aggravated the hurt and distress caused by the article," Mr Kelly said.

A further article speculated about reasons for the end of their civil partnership, the solicitor added.

Mr Kelly said the allegations were not put to Lucas before publication of the articles which, he said, "caused the claimant considerable upset and distress and constitutes a gross invasion of the claimant's privacy".

"This is especially the case as the articles were published at a time when the claimant ought to have been given time to grieve."

Express Newspapers had since retracted the allegations, he added.

'Intrusive reporting'

Mr Lucas, who was not in court, said in a statement he had taken "no pleasure or sense of triumph in this settlement".

Image caption Matt Lucas had asked for his privacy to be respected

"My deep pain and sorrow have been made even greater by the intrusive and defamatory stories made about my private life in the Daily Star just hours after Kevin's death," he said.

"I had no choice but to bring these proceedings to protect my private life and my right to grieve in peace."

He added: "I am just relieved that this case has been resolved and I sincerely hope this sort of intrusive reporting will now end."

The couple celebrated their 2006 civil partnership with a lavish, pantomime-themed reception.

Mr Lucas was granted a dissolution in October 2008 on the grounds of his partner's unreasonable behaviour.

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