Long-running Gawker vs Hulk Hogan legal battle ends with £25 million settlement

The shell of US celebrity gossip site Gawker has settled with Hulk Hogan for 31 million dollars (£25 million), ending a long-running court saga over a sex tape which saw Gawker.com shut down.

The legal battle with the wrestling star led to the media company’s bankruptcy and the sale of Gawker’s other sites to Spanish-language broadcaster Univision.

Gawker founder Nick Denton said in a blog post said that the “saga is over”.

Denton filed for personal bankruptcy because of the 140 million dollar verdict won by the former professional wrestler in a Florida court over the sex tape.

Denton said that as part of the settlement, three of the company’s stories – about Hogan and two others who had also filed suit – are being taken offline.

The Gawker vs Hogan invasion-of-privacy case became even more notorious when it emerged that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel had bankrolled the lawsuit.

The settlement instead means Hogan will get 31 million dollars (£25 million) as well as 45% of the proceeds from potential sale of Gawker.com, said Elizabeth Traub, a spokeswoman for Hogan’s lawyer, David Houston. Gawker.com is dormant but its archives remain online.

Mr Houston said in an emailed statement that “all parties have agreed it is time to move on”.

Denton said in the Wednesday post that he was confident that an appeals court would have reduced the 140 million dollar verdict, but “an all-out war with Thiel would have cost too much, and hurt too many people, and there was no end in sight … Gawker’s nemesis was not going away.” Mr Thiel has said he would support Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, “until his final victory”.

Denton also said on Wednesday that as part of the settlement, three “true stories” – about Hogan and two others who had also filed suit – are being “removed from the web”.

Univision, which bought Gawker Media’s other sites for 135 million dollars (£109 million), has already deleted several posts from the properties it now owns, which include tech blog Gizmodo and women-oriented site Jezebel, because they were tied to litigation.

Denton himself also had to file for personal bankruptcy because of the Florida court’s verdict.

Court documents filed on Wednesday said there have been settlement talks between Gawker and Denton as well, although they have not reached a final settlement.

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