Oxford's football chief succeeds in libel action

Managing director of Oxford United Football Club, solicitor Keith Cox, has accepted “substantial” but undisclosed libel damages in the High Court over allegations in the local press that he had deceived or misled fans.

Cox, a partner at Cox Clitheroe, also received a public apology over the article, which appeared on the back page of the Oxford Times on 27 February.

His solicitor, Guy Martin, told Mr Justice Gray that the article had carried the headline: “U-turn is not what it seems claims United's Mr Letdown.”

The report concerned an open meeting, held for Oxford United's fans on 22 January.

It stated that the plaintiff deliberately deceived and/or misled the fans by telling them that he would resign as managing director of the club by the end of February 1998 if the club's financial predicament had not been resolved.

He said that the article also alleged that Cox had “deliberately cultivated the deception of the club's fans and that by acting in this manner had shown himself to be utterly contemptuous of them.”

However, Martin said that the allegations were “wholly untrue”. He said Cox had never deceived or misled fans.

The paper has now apologised for the distress and embarrassment caused as a result of the piece and has agreed to pay Cox “substantial” damages and his legal costs.

Philip Wheeler, acting on behalf of the Oxford Times, said the publication had accepted that it had misheard Cox's remarks at the January meeting and sincerely regretted publication of the article.