Press Release

Associated Newspapers Limited, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and the Daily Mail, apologised today to Tom Watson MP in a Statement in Open Court read before Mr Justice Eady.

Mr Watson complained of an article by Iain Dale, headed “Smears, glowering henchmen-like the Nixon White House” published in the Mail on Sunday on 12 April 2009 in which it was stated not only that Mr Watson was copied into emails sent by Downing Street press adviser Damian McBride to Derek Draper, but that he “encouraged” them. The emails were reported to have made serious and false allegations about the private lives of a number of Conservative Party MPs in the course of discussing proposals for a new website to be known as “Red Rag”.

As the Court heard today, Associated Newspapers Limited now accepts that these allegations are entirely untrue. In fact, Mr Watson was not copied into any of the emails exchanged between Mr McBride and Mr Draper. As Mr Watson has already publicly made clear, he had no involvement in or knowledge of the “Red Rag” website and he did not condone the content of the emails and, indeed, regarded them as completely inappropriate.

Associated Newspapers Limited has unreservedly withdrawn the allegations, apologised to Mr Watson for the distress the article caused him and his family and has joined in the reading of the Statement in Open Court today. In addition, Associated Newspapers Limited has agreed to pay Mr Watson substantial damages, together with his legal costs.

28 comments ↓

#1 Mr. Mxyzptlk on 05.20.09 at 12:48 pm

Nice one tom!

#2 BritSwedeGuy on 05.20.09 at 12:49 pm

Never trust a right-wing blogger with a history of drunk-driving!

#3 Iain Dale’s entirely untrue allegations - Chicken Yoghurt on 05.20.09 at 1:19 pm

[...] goodness then that Iain Dale chose the Daily Mail to publish his ‘entirely untrue’ allegations – unsubstantiated rumours, if you like – [...]

#4 JackP on 05.20.09 at 2:08 pm

Well, if you’ve got substaintial damages, treat yourself to something. After all that mudslinging which was headed your way (I remember your twitterings/ locking of updates and the like), which seems to have been without any substance, you deserve some treat. If you’ll excuse the cheekiness, why not buy yourself a big TV – as you’d never get one on expenses these days :-)

#5 Liam on 05.20.09 at 2:08 pm

I am a great fan of, and usual defender, of Iain Dale. Clearly in this case he got something very wrong, maybe run away with the story.

#6 Debate around the web 20.05.09 « Press Review Blog on 05.20.09 at 6:15 pm

[...] around the web 20.05.09 In links on May 20, 2009 at 5:14 pm Tom Watson has published a press release from Carter Ruck regarding legal action against Associated [...]

#7 RobT on 05.20.09 at 6:16 pm

Well done Tom!

#8 Tom Watson vindicated over Iain Dale article in Daily Mail | The Wardman Wire on 05.20.09 at 6:53 pm

[...] He took action for defamation against the Daily Mail over an article by Iain Dale, and he has won: [...]

#9 Cynical Chatter From The Underworld » Iain Dale Lies and Libel on 05.20.09 at 6:54 pm

[...] this is true is proven today, as you can find on the blog of Tom Watson with his Press release, the press release shows that Iain Dale had an article published in the Mail on Sunday about Tom [...]

#10 Iain Dale tells libellous lies — Official! « Malcolm Redfellow’s Home Service on 05.20.09 at 6:55 pm

[...] Here’s the skinny: Associated Newspapers Limited, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and the Daily Mail, apologised today to Tom Watson MP in a Statement in Open Court read before Mr Justice Eady. [...]

#11 Jonathan Cook on 05.20.09 at 8:00 pm

Plausible deniability is a great thing…………

#12 Bob Piper on 05.20.09 at 8:31 pm

Wrote the story then ran away I think you mean, Liam.

#13 Ian Dale: Peddlar of untrue allegations | Sim-O on 05.20.09 at 11:06 pm

[...] Tom Watson… Mr Watson complained of an article by Iain Dale, headed “Smears, glowering henchmen-like the Nixon White House” published in the Mail on Sunday on 12 April 2009 in which it was stated not only that Mr Watson was copied into emails sent by Downing Street press adviser Damian McBride to Derek Draper, but that he “encouraged” them. The emails were reported to have made serious and false allegations about the private lives of a number of Conservative Party MPs in the course of discussing proposals for a new website to be known as “Red Rag”. [...]

#14 Harry Mecalfe on 05.20.09 at 11:57 pm

That must be a relief! Hopefully it’s more or less all over now?

#15 Tony on 05.21.09 at 1:38 pm

Tried to get this comment published on Tom Harris MP’s blog. Inexplicably he didn’t allow it through:

Today in the high court Iain Dale has been humiliated by admissions of the ‘serious and false’ and ‘entirely untrue’ allegations he made against our colleague Tom Watson.

I know you’ll join me in congratulating Tom on his hard-won victory against the smear-merchants attempting to traduce his reputation.

Isn’t it time for those in the Labour movement who maintain inexplicably close links with Dale to reassess them in the cold light of this shocking court admission?

#16 Tom P on 05.21.09 at 3:04 pm

Can’t see anything on Iain Dale’s blog about this…

#17 Paul on 05.21.09 at 3:22 pm

Maybe you should read what Iain Dale said at the time and is saying now. He apologized at the time for the error and is apologizing now. Even though he immediately tried to correct the error in the MoS he is not avoiding responsibility. Presumably this is why Mr Harris has not sued him personally.

Perhaps some on the left could learn from this approach to mistakes, rather than pretending they never make any.

#18 Paul on 05.21.09 at 3:22 pm

Apologies Mr Watson, for Harris read Watson in the above post.

#19 Tom P on 05.21.09 at 5:45 pm

actually he’s put a statement up now

#20 Iain Dale is wrong. « A blog from the back room. on 05.21.09 at 6:48 pm

[...] At the height of the e-mail furore (how long ago it seems…), Iain libelled Tom Watson in the National press. Iain apologised at the time for that error, but when you allege someone has helped organise a scandalous piece of behaviour you’re putting their career at risk and you have to accept all the consequences. [...]

#21 brummytaff on 05.21.09 at 10:05 pm

Thanks for the letter Tom,
now lets see a robust response to the expenses issues in time for the elections on June 4th.
Sandwell and West Brom does not need more BNP councillors, specially on the Lyng. So come out fighting!
Bob

#22 Carter Ruck release: Mail on Sunday apologises to MP over Dale story | Journalism.co.uk Editors' Blog on 05.22.09 at 8:47 am

[...] Full release at this link… [...]

#23 Tim Ireland on 05.22.09 at 11:15 am

Iain Dale: “Get your facts right. I apologised directly to Tom on the evening it happened (11 April)”
http://bit.ly/M0uUS

Iain Dale: “Sunny, get your facts right. I did apologise to Tom personally by email on 13 April”
http://bit.ly/XG0lf

Way to get your facts right, Iain.

The fact is, Iain did not publish an apology immediately, it took the involvement of lawyers to get him to even admit to being wrong on his site, and he later implied* that by using lawyers Tom had something to hide.

(*Paul Staines, the most likely source of this false allegation, did the same.)

Also, while Iain may have withdrawn the allegation from his site rather quickly, it made it to print and was widely repeated, and for over two days he allowed the majority of his readers to continue thinking that Tom had been CCed on those emails. By his own admission, he only brought people up to speed if they emailed him and asked about it.

The day this news came out, iain responded to someone asking about this press release by referring them to an earlier statement that *again* without evidence alleged Tom Watson’s direct involvement in the ’smeargate’ emails (and was later forced to delete that comment).

#24 ThePickards » Nadine Dorries: The Witchhunt on 05.23.09 at 12:02 am

[...] Only that’s where it started to unravel slightly. Tom denied it; no-one was able to provide any evidence to the contrary, and eventually… Associated Newspapers Limited has unreservedly withdrawn the allegations, apologised to Mr Watson for the distress the article caused him and his family and has joined in the reading of the Statement in Open Court today. In addition, Associated Newspapers Limited has agreed to pay Mr Watson substantial damages, together with his legal costs.Tom-Watson.co.uk [...]

#25 Carter Ruck release: Mail on Sunday apologises to MP over Dale story | DAILYMAIL on 05.23.09 at 8:56 am

[...] Full release at this link… [...]

#26 PB on 05.27.09 at 10:51 am

Can’t see anything on Iain Dale’s blog about this…

#27 Graham Brown-Martin on 05.28.09 at 11:50 am

Congratulations on this well earned outcome against poor journalism (churnalism).

#28 Quietzapple on 06.09.09 at 5:49 pm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jun/09/gordon-brown-brother-andrew-libel-scotland-on-sunday

Andrew Brown has won too!

But the damage cannot be reversed.

The only time I heard Paul Staines on the BBC he libeled Peter Hain, and they had to apologise spit spot!

Their campaign of abuse and libels is massively successful, and now the BNP and UKIP come into play they will be like ferrets in a polybag.

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