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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Beckham Loses Libel Suit Over Call Girl Gossip

(CN) - A Los Angeles federal judge dismissed David Beckham's $25 million libel suit against the publisher of In Touch magazine because the soccer star cannot prove the tabloid had malicious intent when it ran a story about Beckham paying $10,000 for sex.

U.S. District Judge Manuel Real granted Bauer Publishing Co.'s motion to strike Beckham's claims of libel, slander and intentional infliction of emotional distress, filed last fall, because Beckham's celebrity status means that any potential scandals involving him are of public interest.

The one-page order, issued Monday though not posted immediately, does not have a written opinion.

The In Touch story relates claims from 26-year-old call girl, Irma Nici, who says she slept with Beckham several time in 2007 for money. Nici was also named as a defendant in Beckham's lawsuit.

Bauer said it stands by the accuracy of its reporting.

"Even assuming that Beckham could show that the article describing his affair with Irma Nici was false and defamatory, he could not establish a probability of prevailing on his libel claim because he cannot show that Bauer published the story with constitutional actual malice," the publisher said in its November motion to strike.

Since Beckham cannot prove libel, Bauer also asked for dismissal of the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim.

Beckham's publicist Jeff Raymond has reportedly said an appeal is in the works, noting that Beckham obtained a ruling in his favor from a German court.

"We have already won a court ruling in Germany and are awaiting damages," Raymond said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the U.S. legal system requires us to show that the magazine acted maliciously. Any knowledgeable person knows this story not to be true, and we will continue to fight this in court and the decision will be appealed."

Bauer Magazine, Bauer Media Group, Bauer, Bauer North America and Michelle Lee, the magazine's editor, were also named defendants in the case.

Beckham, who plays for the L.A. Galaxy, has four children with his wife, Victoria, who is best known for being Posh Spice of the Spice Girls.

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