Prince Andrew’s ex-girlfriend Koo Stark wins damages against Daily Mail

Stark took legal action against newspaper after it wrongly referred to her as a ‘porn star’

Prince Andrew’s former girlfriend Koo Stark has received substantial damages from the Daily Mail after the newspaper wrongly referred to her as a “porn star”.

Stark, who now works as a photographer, brought the legal action over a November 2019 piece that referred to Andrew as a “Duke of Hazard” with “very shady friends” and included a photo of Stark from the film The Awakening of Emily captioned “The prince and the porn star”.

It referred to Andrew having had “an astonishing relationship with a soft porn actress”, referencing her role in the 1976 film.

Stark played the title role in the film, which is described by IMDb as a “romance” movie. The film website summarised its plot: “The year is 1928 and Emily, aged 17, returns home from school in Switzerland. At her family estate in the English countryside, it seems everyone is trying to seduce her.”

The Daily Mail article falsely characterised Stark’s role in the film as pornographic. Stark’s lawyer, Francis Leonard, said: “The words at issue meant, and would have been understood to mean, that the claimant is a porn actress who has made her living participating in films which are made for distribution in the pornographic market.

“The true position is that Ms Stark has never appeared in a pornographic film or posed for pornographic photographs. None of her work could properly be described as pornographic or indeed as ‘very shady’. In particular, the film The Awakening of Emily is a coming-of-age drama and not a pornographic film.”

Leonard said the article was also published on MailOnline but was amended just over nine hours later to correct the reference to Stark, before having all references to her removed in 2021.

He continued: “The defendant’s publication of the article and the false statements about her caused the claimant very considerable distress and upset.

“The defendant has accepted that the article’s reference to Ms Stark was defamatory and without justification … The defendant has agreed to pay the claimant substantial damages.”

The case was also brought against the then-editor and deputy editor Geordie Greig and Gerard Greaves.

Gemma McNeil-Walsh, acting for the Mail’s parent company, said: “The defendant through me offers its sincere apologies to the claimant for the distress, embarrassment and upset caused to her by the publication of the Daily Mail article. The defendant accepts there was and is no truth in the allegation advanced about the claimant and is happy to set the record straight.”

An apology was also published in Friday’s print edition of the Daily Mail.

Stark’s brief relationship with Andrew in the early 1980s, before he married Sarah Ferguson, has made her an ongoing topic of tabloid fascination. There has been renewed media interest in her since Andrew was stripped of his royal honours after paying millions of pounds to settle a sexual assault case brought by Virginia Giuffre.

Judge Mrs Justice Collins Rice said: “I note the very full apology, the payment of substantial damages and this statement. Ms Stark is entitled to consider herself, and be considered as, fully vindicated.”

Contributor

Jim Waterson Media editor

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Consultant wins aggravated libel damages against Daily Mail
Management consultant Andrew Miller wins £65,000 over false claims he won Scotland Yard contracts through cronyism. By Jason Deans

Jason Deans

21, Dec, 2012 @7:44 PM

Article image
Michael Parkinson wins Daily Mail payout
Associated Newspapers settles legal action over false allegations about broadcaster's family. By Mark Sweney

Mark Sweney

03, Mar, 2010 @11:30 AM

Article image
Doreen Lawrence, Prince Harry and others launch legal action against Daily Mail publisher
Famous figures including Elton John accuse Associated Newspapers of ‘gross breaches of privacy’

Jim Waterson and Vikram Dodd

06, Oct, 2022 @5:34 PM

Article image
Daily Mail poaches new MailOnline editor from Murdoch's Fox
Noah Kotch recruited from Fox News Digital to run website

Mark Sweney Media business correspondent

18, Jun, 2018 @10:14 PM

Article image
Daily Mail is right to pursue Prince Andrew over his finances
It’s time for all newspapers to look into the funding of the royal family

Roy Greenslade

12, Jan, 2015 @1:19 PM

Article image
Quentin Letts to leave Daily Mail for Murdoch-owned papers
Theatre critic and sketchwriter ends 18-year association with title, which has changed Brexit stance

Jim Waterson Media editor

28, Nov, 2018 @3:45 PM

Article image
Kate Winslet accepts £25,000 libel damages from Daily Mail
Oscar-winning star 'delighted' at apology over false claim that she lied about her exercise regime

Staff and agencies

03, Nov, 2009 @11:25 AM

Article image
Damian Green inquiry to examine influence of Daily Mail article
Cabinet Office investigation will include potential influence by Green or allies into article by Mail’s Andrew Pierce about accuser Kate Maltby

Jessica Elgot Political reporter

12, Dec, 2017 @12:30 AM

Article image
Nicola Sturgeon criticises Daily Mail over 'Legs-it' front page
First minister says newspaper is ‘leading the way’ in taking Britain back to the 1970s after its coverage of her meeting with prime minister Theresa May

Jane Martinson

28, Mar, 2017 @10:29 PM

Article image
Daily Mail apologises to Nicola Sturgeon over union flag claim
Scottish edition had accused first minister of wanting to curtail flying of the flag for royal events

Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent

26, Jan, 2018 @9:32 AM