Video | Redrow boss ‘totally vindicated’ after Daily Mail pay-out
Redrow founder and chairman Steve Morgan said he felt “totally vindicated” after he won substantial damages and an apology from Daily Mail publisher Associated Newspapers in a defamation action.
The Daily Mail published an article on 24 August 2017 under the headline “Building tycoons using staff discounts to snap up homes meant for families”, accompanied by a photo of Morgan and his wife taken at the funeral of a close friend.
The article was also accompanied by a sub-headline which read “Fat cat bought 6 houses ... and rents 4 back to staff”.
It falsely claimed he took advantage of an opportunity to buy six houses built by his company at its development at Stretton Green, Cheshire, that were intended to be sold to less-well off buyers as affordable homes at a discounted price of £860,000 against a market value of £2.1m. The article also claimed he was charging at least £640 a month in rent for each one.
In fact, the price paid by Morgan for the six properties was the highest offer that was made. The properties were not on the market for £350,000 each as claimed and Morgan did not purchase them at a substantial discount to their market value. The properties are also subject to affordable housing obligations and are all being rented out to local residents, some of them for substantially less than £640 per month.
Morgan's solicitor Matt Himsworth explained that Morgan complained about the article but the Daily Mail refused to offer a correction or apology to his satisfaction, which prompted him to take legal action.
Morgan has requested that a “substantial payment” be made to charity in lieu of damages. The money will be used towards adapted mini-buses for two special needs schools, Archer’s Brook in Ellesmere Port and Ysgol Gogarth in Llandudno. The buses enable severely disabled children to access offsite activities, promoting their independent living skills.
Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London yesterday, Morgan said: “I feel glad that it is over and I feel totally vindicated by the action we have taken. It was totally unnecessary, the article was very wrong, and yet it has taken 18 months to get justice.
“But at least we are there now and the beneficiary is the two lovely special needs school charities who will both get specially adapted minibuses paid for in part by the proceeds of today so I feel very vindicated but it is just a shame that it had to happen and it took so long for the Mail to apologise.”
Himsworth said: “These allegations struck at the heart of his [Morgan’s] personal integrity and dignity. The claimant has a strong sense of social responsibility. He recognises that he is now in a fortunate position – the success he has had with his businesses means that he is a wealthy man and he has felt a strong desire, for a long time now, to put back into the local communities where he grew up and continues to live, through his charitable work and his foundation, the Steve Morgan Foundation.
"The article flew in the face of his philanthropic purpose in life, caused him immense anger and distress. The suggestion that he would greedily chisel financial advantages for himself at the expense of low-income families was deeply insulting to him."
Matthew Dando, acting for Associated Newspapers, said: “The defendant acknowledges that these claims about the claimant are untrue, and apologises to the claimant for any distress and embarrassment caused.”