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Man United star Rio loses court battle over 'kiss and tell'

MANCHESTER United and England footballer Rio Ferdinand has lost a High Court privacy action over a "kiss and tell" newspaper story.

Ferdinand (32) brought a case for misuse of private information against MGN Ltd over a Sunday Mirror article in which interior designer Carly Storey gave her account of their 13-year relationship in return for £16,000.

The judge Justice Nicol had been asked to award the England player a maximum of £50,000 damages and a worldwide gagging injunction.

But he said: "Overall, in my judgment, the balancing exercise favours the defendant's right of freedom of expression over the claimant's right of privacy."

Ferdinand has branded the April 2010 piece -- "My affair with England captain Rio" -- a "gross invasion of my privacy", and insisted he had not seen Storey for six years by the time it appeared.

The article claimed that Ferdinand, who has three children with wife Rebecca, ended the relationship within days of being made England captain in February 2010.

MGN said it was in the public interest to run the story about the centre-back, who replaced John Terry as England captain before Terry was reinstated by manager Fabio Capello this year.

Its lawyer Gavin Millar said at a hearing in London in July that Ferdinand was appointed England captain on the basis of being reformed and responsible. In fact, this was not the case, he added.

He argued that the case was not really about Ferdinand's privacy but about the effect on the public image he had so painstakingly constructed.

The judge refused Ferdinand permission to appeal, although he can renew his application directly to the Court of Appeal.

Ferdinand now faces a bill for legal costs unofficially estimated at around £500,000.

In his ruling, the judge said there was a public interest in the article.

He said the captaincy was "a job that carried with it an expectation of high standards. In the views of many, the captain was expected to maintain those standards off, as well as on, the pitch".