Belfast lawyer wins apology for A-list pair

Valerie Robinson Southern correspondent

HOLLYWOOD power couple Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel have won an apology from a gossip magazine that questioned the state of their two-year marriage.

Belfast-based libel lawyer Paul Tweed, of Johnson's law firm, had lodged proceedings on the stars' behalf in Dublin's High Court a fortnight ago claiming they had been defamed in an article published in the European edition of Heat magazine.

The magazine, and its owners, German publishers Bauer Consumer Media, were sued by the couple after an article appeared last month.

In a statement read to the court yesterday, Bauer said they "unreservedly" apologised to the A-listers for the article, saying the story had been "based on an unfounded report" regarding Timber-lake's "alleged behaviour at a club following a performance in Paris".

The publishers also said that the article had contained "a number of purported statements improperly attributed" to 32-year-old Biel, that had "never been made by her".

"The defendant accepts that the article was false and withdraws any inferences that questioned the state of Justin and Jessica's marriage," the statement said, adding that Bauer regretted "any embarrassment" caused by the claims.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Tweed said his clients were "very satisfied" with the "categoric retraction of what was a false and unfounded story" and with the publishers' "comprehensive apology".

The solicitor, whose client list includes Liam Neeson, Jennifer Lopez, Harrison Ford and Britney Spears, said Biel and her 33-year-old pop-star husband would not be making any further comment on their case against Bauer.

Mr Tweed also warned that the famous pair, who celebrated their second anniversary on Sunday, would "not hesitate to take similar legal action if false allegations regarding the state of their marriage are repeated".

* DEFAMATION SUIT: Top, Justin Timberlake and his wife Jessica Biel. Above, libel lawyer Paul Tweed is suing the publishers of Heat magazine on the couple's behalf


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