28/07/2006

Paul McKenna wins libel case

Hypnotist Paul McKenna has won his High Court libel action against a tabloid newspaper which claimed that he had purchased a fake degree.

The case centred on an article published in the 'Daily Mirror' which claimed that McKenna had bought a bogus degree from La Salle University in Louisiana.

The article, by journalist Victor Lewis-Smith was published in October 2003. In the article, Lewis-Smith said: "I discovered that anyone could be fully doctored by La Salle within months (no previous qualifications needed), just so long as they could answer the following question correctly: 'Do you have $2,615, sir?'.

During the trial, McKenna claimed that he had been 'pilloried' by Lewis-Smith from 1997 onwards and said that he had been made a 'laughing stock'.

However, the newspaper's publishers, who had denied libel and pleaded justification, called evidence from Lewis-Smith's co-writer Paul Sparks, who said that La Salle had informed him that he could obtain a doctorate for that fee within a matter of months and without undertaking any formal course.

Mr Justice Eady, who heard the case without a jury, said that he could not accept the newspaper had discharged the burden of proving that the sting of the words complained of was substantially true.

McKenna, who runs a self-help business with an annual turnover of £2.5 million, was not at London's High Court for the ruling. However, he released a statement saying that he was "delighted" with the verdict.

(KMcA/SP)

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