13 Jun DEFAMATION – DAMAGES WIN FOR KOO STARK OVER MTV STORY
Prince Andrew’s ex-girlfriend Koo Stark has won substantial damages from Viacom International, owner of MTV’s entertainment news website, after it published an article that wrongly referred to her as a “porn star”.
The American actor and photographer dated Prince Andrew for two years in the early 1980s.
The relationship came to an end in the wake of controversy over the fact that Stark had appeared in the erotic film Emily in 1976.
Stark was reported last year to have instructed lawyers in respect of her portrayal in forthcoming episodes of Netflix series The Crown, which is soon to cover the period during which she was in a relationship with the Prince.
A story published by MTV listing “dramatic moments” from the history of the Royal family featured a section under the headline: “When Prince Andrew dated a porn star.”
Alongside a photo of the Prince, it said: “This is why the Royal Family should have their own reality show [to be honest]. During a trip to the Caribbean, Andrew was seen with Koo Stark, an American lady who was no stranger to the porn scene. We can imagine Lizzy was not impressed.”
In a statement in open court, Stark’s lawyer said the article was defamatory because readers would understand it to mean Stark “is a porn actress who has made her living participating in films which are made by pornographers for distribution in the pornography market”.
He went on to say: “Ms Stark, who was at one time widely expected to marry HRH Prince Andrew, has never participated in any pornographic film, posed for pornographic photographs, or participated in any enterprise which could properly be described as pornographic.”
Viacom International has agreed not to repeat the claim.
Stark’s lawyer said out of Court that the false allegation repeated by MTV had “gained new currency” because of The Crown, adding: “Hopefully after the reading of this statement it will not be repeated.”
The Daily Star published an apology to Stark last year over an article that wrongly said she had “starred in a pornographic film”. The title said this was “not a true and accurate description” of her work.
Defunct lads’ magazine Zoo paid Stark substantial damages in 2007 over a similar allegation.
The repeated damages awards to Stark illustrate the danger of reproducing defamatory allegations found on the internet or in other media without independently verifying them and considering the legal risks.