BusinessF1 wins libel action against FIA

The editor of BusinessF1 Magazine, Tom Rubython, yesterday won a libel action in the High Court against Richard Woods, director of communications for the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). After a three-day trial before a jury Mr. Rubython was awarded damages of £17,500 and Mr. Justice Gray ordered Mr. Woods should pay Mr. Rubython’s costs on an indemnity basis from June 2006 onwards. The total costs, payable by Mr. Woods, of both Mr. Rubython and the magazine plus those of Mr. Woods are approximately UK£250,000 (US$480,000). The FIA, which supported Mr. Woods during the action, had previously stated in open court that they were funding the action and the FIA are therefore likely to have to foot the bill for both side’s legal costs. It is not known whether Mr. Woods will be left to pay the damages personally.

Tom Rubython sued Richard Woods after an anonymous Internet and email attack was mounted against him. Mr. Woods admitted posting an article on the Wikpedia website on 6th January using a false name and then being responsible for the sending of emails (which were also sent with false names) containing the article to motorsport industry personalities on 9th January 2006. Mr. Woods denied responsibility for three more websites created anonymously that also contained similar material. Mr. Woods accused Mr. Rubython of continually surrounding himself with criminals during his 25- year career in business and journalism. Mr. Rubython initially asked only for an apology and undertakings not to repeat the allegations but when these were refused he sought damages for libel. Mr. Woods attempted to justify the allegations but the jury rejected his defense returning a unanimous verdict in favor of Mr. Rubython. Tom Rubython said: “The injustice of this anonymous attack on me personally by Richard Woods has been shown. If Mr. Woods had apologized a year ago none of this would have been necessary but I was determined to clear my name of the slur that I had surrounded myself with criminals for my entire career."

Indemnity Costs Order
Mr. Woods was ordered to pay indemnity costs (rather than on the standard basis) after he had sued Mr. Rubython for an article that he had published about him in BusinessF1 in April 2006. (At an earlier hearing on 25th October 2006 Mr. Rubython admitted liability and subsequently agreed to pay £10,000 damages). But as early as May 2006, Mr. Rubython had offered a settlement involving mutual apologies and undertakings in relation to their respective claims. Mr. Woods rejected this offer which turned out to be substantially more generous to Mr. Woods than the final outcome following the trial by jury yesterday.

Mr. Rubython was represented by Marvin Simons of Seddons Solicitors and Mr. Harry Boggis-Rolfe. Mr. Woods was represented by Dominic Crossley of Steeles Law and Mr. William Bennett. For more information please contact Tom Rubython: 020 7251 8822 (Mobile 07860 331837) or Marvin Simons: 020 7725 8057 (Mobile: 07733 318955).

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