Thursday 23 March 2017

Injunction footballer 'blackmailed' on affair

'Big Brother' contestant 'asked him for £100,000'

Dean Gray in London

A premiership footballer who has taken out a gagging order over his alleged affair with 'Big Brother' contestant Imogen Thomas sought the injunction after she tried to blackmail him for £100,000 (€114,000), a court heard yesterday.

The player, who can't be named, said Thomas had told him she "needed" the money and was being tracked by journalists.

He said he had reluctantly met the Welsh reality contestant at two different hotels to discuss the money, but began to "smell a rat" and feared he had been set up.

Details of the reasons behind the injunction banning the naming of the footballer, who is married with children, emerged at the High Court in London, England, yesterday.

Mr Justice Eady published his full decision to grant the initial injunction on April 14, which was upheld on April 20 and is now being challenged by the media.

Thomas (28) was at the hearing and afterwards complained about being unfairly "gagged".

Outside court, she said: "I've read the judgment and am stunned by how I'm portrayed. Yet again, my name and my reputation are being trashed while the man I had a relationship with is able to hide.

"What's more, I can't even defend myself because I've been gagged. Where's the fairness in this?

"If this is the way privacy injunctions are supposed to work, then there's something seriously wrong with the law."

The judge said the footballer was married with a family and the court had to consider his privacy rights.

He said the footballer was likely to obtain a permanent injunction if the case went to trial and the "information" was such that he was entitled to a "reasonable expectation of privacy".

The judge said he made the injunction against News Group Newspapers, publisher of 'The Sun', and against Thomas in order to restrain publication of the identity of the footballer and further accounts of the relationship.

The judge said lawyers became involved after a story appeared in 'The Sun' on April 14 giving an account of a sexual relationship Thomas had with the footballer, who was not named in the story.

He said the account was attributed to her "pals" and probably written with her consent.

Mr Justice Eady said lawyers for the footballer began legal proceedings to "restrain publication" after learning that Ms Thomas had engaged the services of publicist Max Clifford.

Story

"The (footballer's) witness statement was to the effect that Thomas had made contact with him by various text messages in March, which led him to conclude that she was, at that stage, thinking of selling her story, such as it was," said Mr Justice Eady.

The court heard that the footballer claimed Thomas contacted him a number of times saying she needed money.

The requests started at £50,000 but eventually she made it clear that she was looking for £100,000.

"She later texted him to say there was a journalist outside her house," Mr Justice Eady said.

"The evidence before the court at that point, therefore, appeared to strongly suggest that the (footballer) was being blackmailed (although that is not how he put it himself)."

David Price, for Thomas, told the court that his client denied "causing the publication" in 'The Sun' or asking the footballer for money.

Irish Independent

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