10:50am PT by Eriq Gardner
Elton John Sues Murdoch-Owned British Newspaper for Libel
Elton John is suing UK newspaper The Times for allegedly defaming him by implicating him in a tax avoidance scheme.
On June 21, the Rupert Murdoch-owned paper carried the headline, "Screen Play: how movie millions are moved offshore."
The front-page story covered the "secrets of the tax avoiders" and mentioned Ingenious Media top executive Patrick McKenna, who was said to be John's former accountant and one of two main providers of film investment schemes in the UK. The paper is also alleged to have included another article that referenced John in a report about the "world of glitz and glamour that’s on the Revenue’s radar."
That day, John's attorneys sent a letter, telling the paper's publisher that the singer was "outraged that you have seen fit to use his name and photograph entirely gratuitously in the paper and online in connection with these 'tax avoidance' schemes."
John said he never heard of McKenna. The singer added that he had employed an accounting firm where McKenna was once a partner, but said that McKenna never advised him. He demanded that the paper remove references to him, publish a prominent apology, and compensate him for damages and legal costs.
The Times responded by printing a correction that McKenna had never been John's accountant and then a "clarification" that Ingenious Media had not been involved in tax avoidance activities.
That wasn't enough for John, who reportedly has filed a writ in London's High Court that says the correction was "wholly inadequate" to the prominence of the original story. In the legal filing, John says "the allegations are particularly damaging to the claimant's reputation in the sphere of charity fundraising." (The singer has a prominent AIDS charity.)
John is now seeking damages for alleged defamation.
According to The Guardian, "A Times spokeswoman said, by email, that the paper has since lodged an application with the court to determine whether or not the article is defamatory."