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Mirror's bang ends with a Bing

US millionaire Steve Bing, who fathered actress Elizabeth Hurley's baby, declared victory on Tuesday over a British tabloid's extraordinary front-page apology for dubbing him "Bing Laden."
PTI | By Los Angeles, Afp
PUBLISHED ON NOV 06, 2004 12:47 PM IST

US millionaire Steve Bing, who fathered actress Elizabeth Hurley's baby, declared victory on Tuesday over a British tabloid's extraordinary front-page apology for dubbing him "Bing Laden."

The grovelling apology, which ran under a banner headline in Tuesday's Daily Mirror, came as Bing dropped a 40 million dollar libel suit against the paper which also printed his phone number and urged readers to be rude to him.

"I am delighted that the Mirror has set the record straight," film producer and property fortune heir Bing said from his base in Los Angeles.

"Other publications should follow the Mirror's example of acting responsibly after realizing that it had crossed the line by publishing highly inappropriate material."

Bing's lawyer, Marty Singer, said the paper's decision to publish the retraction and apology marked "an unprecedented resolution to a lawsuit against a tabloid."

"We consider this an enormous victory for Mr. Bing," he said as the latest chapter unfolded in the tumultuous story of the Bing-Hurley affair, the birth of their son in April and the acrimonious battle over paternity that followed.

The Mirror attacked the American as a "love rat" for questioning Hurley's motives after she revealed that he was the father of her child and for demanding a paternity test, which eventually proved he was the dad.

In a series of articles, the paper referred to him as "Bing Laden" and gave out his phone number, telling readers to ring him up and "tell him exactly what you think of him."

Bing alleged that he received death threats after the paper reported that he had denied impregnating Hurley, screen heartthrob Hugh Grant's stunning ex-lover.

The paper's retraction and apology came under the saccharin headline: "A humble and sincere apology to Mr. Steve Bing, philanthropist and humanitarian." "We would like to take the opportunity to offer our sincere apologies to Mr. Bing for publishing disparaging untrue statements about him, and for inappropriately urging our readers to telephone Mr Bing, and to disturb him with derogatory remarks based on our inaccurate reports," read the apology.

"Our readers should know that Mr Bing is not the ignominious character that has been depicted by some in the media," it added.

Another of Bing's attorneys, Lynda Goldman, said the "remarkable" apology signalled public acknowledgment from The Mirror that "what it had done to him was wrong."

"The prominent publication of the exceptional retraction and apology fulfilled that goal in an extraordinary fashion," she said.

Bing had warned The Mirror in December that he was suing for 40 million dollars damages in the United States for "emotional distress" libel and invasion of privacy cause by the paper's articles.

Glamorous Austin Powers actress and model Hurley, 37, is seen by the British tabloids as an icon of glamour, while ex-lover Bing was pilloried as alleged details of their relationship emerged.

He was slammed for initially publicly doubting her fidelity during their 18-month relationship after she fell pregnant, and then for launching legal proceedings two weeks after baby Damian was born to establish paternity.

Hurley branded that latter move by Bing -- who had earlier pledged to be an involved and generous father if it was proved that he was the baby's father -- "astonishing."

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