Daily Mail libel battle begins

Journalist Rebecca Hardy appears to be in hot water as former TV executive Mike Hollingsworth's High Court libel case kicks off against the Daily Mail after Ms Hardy alleged that Mr Hollingsworth beat his ex-girlfriend.

The newspaper printed claims by radio DJ Harriet Scott that he had attacked her initially, while the court heard yesterday that 61-year-old Mike Hollingsworth was "comprehensively beaten up" by Ms Scott of Heart Fm.

Mr Hollingsworth was prepared to settle for an apology from the newspaper until he started to believe that employee Rebecca Hardy had launched what he termed a "personal vendetta" against him through her work.

Ms Hardy had written that Ms Scott was "utterly adamant" that Mr Hollingsworth had initiated the attack, which resulted in the Heart Fm presenter suffering a split lip.

People in Britain and Northern Ireland are protected by laws that mean unproven hearsay should not be printed, as reputations can be tarnished by incorrect claims.

Mr Hollingsworth is now pursuing an aggravated damages case against the Daily Mail for being responsible for the publication of Ms Hardy's defamatory articles.

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