Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Backham & Victoria taking legal action against British tabloid. 

English soccer player David Beckham and his wife Victoria arrive for a sports awards ceremony on May 16, 2005, at the Estoril Casino, outside Lisbon, Portugal. Beckham and his former Spice Girl wife, are taking legal action against a British tabloid that claimed their 'happy marriage' is a sham. A a pretrial hearing was held Monday, Oct. 17, 2005, in London. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

Soccer star David Beckham and his wife, former Spice Girl Victoria, are taking legal action against a British tabloid that claimed their "happy marriage" is a sham.

Beckham, the world's most recognized soccer player, and his wife, the former Posh Spice, are seeking libel damages against the News of the World newspaper over an article that carried the headline: "Posh and Becks on the Rocks." The case will be heard before a judge and jury at London's Law Courts in December.

During a pretrial hearing Monday the couple's lawyer Hugh Tomlinson said the Beckhams would argue they had been defamed by the newspaper and there was no truth in the story alleging that the pair were maintaining a false image of a happy marriage to protect their financial interests.

Richard Spearman, a lawyer for the newspaper's publishers News Group Newspapers said the article suggested that because the Beckhams' "substantial fortunes depend upon their public perception, the claimants have been cynically and hypocritically trying, for financial reasons, to convince the public that they continue to enjoy a happy marriage."

Spearman said the defense would argue that suggestion was true and would question the state of the celebrity marriage.

"Is it unhappy, rocked by rows and tensions because of David Beckham's infidelity or is it happy? We say unhappy," Spearman said.

Tomlinson, the Beckhams' lawyer, said the couple promoted themselves as a happily married couple because they were.

The trial was to start on Dec. 5 and was expected to take two weeks.

It is not the first time that Beckham, the England and Real Madrid soccer star whose income is the highest in world soccer, has pursued libel action against Britain's tabloid media.

In August, Beckham accepted damages from tabloid The People for an article that falsely accused him of making hate calls to a former nanny. Rachel Glavin, lawyer for The People's publisher MGN, said the company had acknowledged that the allegations were untrue.

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