UK

Rio Ferdinand anger at Carly Storey Sunday Mirror story

Rio Ferdinand
Image caption Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is a married father-of-three

Footballer Rio Ferdinand has told the High Court of his anger at a newspaper story about an alleged affair.

He said he felt "angry and upset" when he learned Carly Storey, who made the claims in an April 2010 Sunday Mirror article, was paid £16,000 by the paper.

The Manchester United defender, 32, is seeking substantial damages, including aggravated damages from MGN Ltd, for misuse of private information.

MGN said it was in the public interest to run the story about Mr Ferdinand.

The case hinges on the question of whether the newspaper was justified in publishing its story because the public interest was such that its Article 10 rights to freedom of expression was of a greater importance than Mr Ferdinand's Article 8 privacy rights under the Human Rights Act.

The footballer has three children with his wife, Rebecca.

The defender replaced John Terry as England captain in February 2010 before Terry was reinstated by manager Fabio Capello earlier this year.

Dressed in a dark-blue suit, the footballer told Mr Justice Nicol that he learned of the payment to Ms Storey two weeks ago.

Ms Storey has provided a witness statement but is currently abroad.

The footballer's lawyer, Hugh Tomlinson QC, was asked whether, as had been suggested, Mr Ferdinand was really bringing the action to protect his reputation which he had spent some time "polishing" for financial reasons.

He answered: "No, I just thought a line needs to be drawn. There comes a time to say 'no' and this is the time."

'Entirely private'

Mr Tomlinson said that the story was about "what is alleged to be an affair".

It has not been disputed that the Manchester United defender and Ms Storey first met as teenagers in the 1990s and had at one time been close, but had drifted apart even before Mr Ferdinand moved to Leeds in 2000.

The court heard that at the time of the article the pair had not met for a number of years but occasionally exchanged text messages.

Their last contact was in February 2010, when there was an exchange of texts but no further contact.

Ms Storey contacted publicist Max Clifford a few weeks later and arranged to sell her story.

Mr Tomlinson said the footballer had not received any notice that the story was about to appear which, he said, was a "cynical and deliberate" move to stop him applying for an injunction.

He said the information in the article was "entirely private" and had never previously been discussed in the media.

He added that just because Ferdinand had special skills as a sportsman did not mean that his private life was something newspapers could write about without restriction.

Mr Tomlinson asked: "Is it proper for a newspaper to buy information about someone's private life, to trade in that information simply because they are well-known, simply because they have been written about before? We say the answer to that question is plainly 'no'."

And he described the public interest defence offered by the newspaper as "extraordinarily thin", adding that the article made no contribution to the debate about the England captaincy as it appeared two months after John Terry was replaced.