Lord Blair"s friend claims story was wrong to claim he had won contracts through cronyism


Lord Blair's friend claims paper was wrong to allege he had won contracts through cronyism

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UPDATED:

01:07 GMT, 22 December 2012


Denial: Lord Blair denies he handed out contracts to close friends paid for by public money

Denial: Lord Blair denies he handed out contracts to close friends paid for by public money

A friend of former Scotland Yard chief Lord Blair won a High Court libel action yesterday when a judge ruled that he had been defamed in a newspaper article about his work for the Metropolitan Police.

Management consultant Andrew Miller had told the court in May that his reputation had been ‘trashed’ by claims he had won police contracts worth millions of pounds through cronyism.

Mr Miller, 58, brought High Court proceedings over a front-page article in the Daily Mail in October 2008.

In 2011, a judge ruled that it meant there were, at the date of publication, reasonable grounds to suspect that Mr Miller was a willing beneficiary of improper conduct and cronyism because of his friendship with the former Metropolitan Police commissioner in respect of the award of a number of Met Police contracts to Mr Miller’s company, Impact Plus, worth millions of pounds of public money.

The newspaper’s publishers, Associated Newspapers, denied libel, contending that the article was substantially true or that the action was an abuse of process.

High Court: A longstanding friend of Lord Blair's, Andrew Miller, is suing Associated Newspapers for libel

High Court: A longstanding friend of Lord Blair's, Andrew Miller, is suing Associated Newspapers for libel

In her judgment yesterday, Mrs Justice
Sharp said the article was focused on Lord Blair, who was later cleared
of any misconduct or dishonesty following an independent
investigation, but that Mr Miller had suffered ‘significant collateral
damage’ and had not been contacted for comment by the Mail prior to
publication.

The judge ruled that the article was defamatory and ordered Associated Newspapers to pay 65,000 in damages.

The article had said that the two men
had been friends since the 1970s, were part of an annual ski-trip group,
and met three or four times a year for dinner.

Mrs Justice Sharp said: ‘I am in no
doubt that Mr Miller had suffered considerably as a result of its
publication; and was very distressed and hurt by it.’