Judge Tosses Beckham Libel Suit Against Magazine

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - A federal judge on Monday dismissed David Beckham's libel and slander lawsuit against In Touch magazine over a story that claimed he cheated on his wife with a prostitute.

Beckham's attorney, Richard B. Kendall, vowed to appeal the ruling and disprove the celebrity tabloid's claims about the international soccer star, who is married to a former Spice Girl.

U.S. District Judge Manuel Real said in his ruling that Beckham is a public figure and his attorneys hadn't shown any evidence In Touch published the story with malice. He also said that allegations of any infidelity by Beckham would be of interest to the public.

Elizabeth McNamara, who represented In Touch's owner Bauer Publishing Co., said the magazine did everything possible to corroborate details from the prostitute's on-the-record interview. She told Real that the woman's account was "entirely consistent with Mr. Beckham's reputation as a serial philanderer."

The magazine has not retracted the story.

Beckham's camp continued to deny and attack In Touch's story, and said they had already won a judgment over the report.

"We have already won a court ruling in Germany and are awaiting damages," Beckham spokesman Jeff Raymond said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the U.S. legal system requires us to show that the magazine acted maliciously. Any knowledgeable person knows this story not to be true, and we will continue to fight this in court and the decision will be appealed."

Beckham sued In Touch in September and was seeking $25 million. The Los Angeles Galaxy star argued in a court filing in January that he was visiting his ailing father in London during one of the alleged trysts with the purported call girl Irma Nici.

Kendall said a basic investigation by the magazine would have shown that Beckham was elsewhere when the alleged trysts occurred. He asked the judge to allow the case to proceed so that he could conduct depositions that would bolster Beckham's case, but Real refused.

"We were left with two hands tied behind our back for the purposes of this motion," Kendall said after the hearing.

He said In Touch had taken specific steps to block its story from being seen in Beckham's native England, where Kendall said libel laws would have resulted in a quicker resolution to the case in the soccer star's favor.

"Obviously, we're pleased," McNamara said after the hearing. "We think the court followed the law and did the correct thing."

Beckham and his wife, Victoria, said last month they are expecting their fourth child this summer.
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