A grandmother suing The Sun over claims that she had sex with Wayne Rooney while working as a prostitute had her £750,000 (€1.1bn) damages claim thrown out of court today.
Mother-of-seven Patricia Tierney, 52, denied the claim published in the paper in August 2004 that she was a sex worker at a Liverpool brothel used by the England and Manchester United star.
But today at Manchester County Court, it was revealed that Mrs Tierney, from Whiston, Merseyside, had admitted working as a prostitute in a statement to police two years earlier.
She claimed libel damages after saying her photo and the Sun article, headlined “Don’t fancy yours much Wayne” was “horrible lies” that had destroyed her reputation and her life.
Mrs Tierney, a grandmother of 16, launched the legal battle claiming she had only ever worked as a receptionist at Diva’s massage parlour in Liverpool – and had never worked as a prostitute.
Rooney, 21, had been put on notice by the court that he might be called as a witness.
But today Anthony Hudson, The Sun’s barrister, showed the court a police witness statement from May 2002.
In it, Mrs Tierney told officers she had sold herself for sex because she needed the money – but kept her job a secret from her family.
She told officers she had a “dual role” at the parlour, as a receptionist with housekeeping duties.
But she added in the statement: “On other days I would act as a sex worker. My role would be to provide sex services to clients.”
Mr Hudson said Mrs Tierney’s claim amounted to £750,000 (€1.1bn) – £250,000 (€378,000) damages for her and £500,000 (€757,000) legal fees, which the Sun would have had to pay if she won her case.
He added: “Mrs Tierney has deliberately and knowingly engaged in fraudulent conduct, has deceived, and clearly been involved in an attempt to pervert the course of justice.”
Her solicitors withdrew from the case on Friday, after the statement came to light, advising her she could not now win her case.
Mr Justice Christopher Clarke today dismissed an application by Mrs Tierney, who represented herself in court, to adjourn the hearing while she sought alternative legal representation.
Instead the judge dismissed the case.
Mr Justice Clarke also awarded punitive costs to The Sun payable by Mrs Tierney. The paper is unlikely to be paid, as Mrs Tierney is on benefits and has no assets.
He also told her he would be referring the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions, and Mrs Tierney could now face possible prosecution for lying to the court and attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Mr Justice Clarke had told the court: "In effect, the claimant has commenced and continued these proceedings at no immediate expense to herself and has put the defendant (The Sun) to an expense at least equal but no doubt considerably greater than her own, on the basis of a lie that has been revealed by her own statement of May 2002.
“The existence of that statement was never disclosed. No doubt the claimant hoped it would never see the light of day. I regard that not merely as an abuse of justice, but an attempt to pervert the course of justice.”
The judge formally struck out the claim by Mrs Tierney, adding that it was “a claim conceived in falsehood and continued in deceit”.
In a statement, The Sun said: "This lady is the latest in a long line of people who think they can get away with a dishonest and fraudulent claim by suing newspapers. She was able to do this because her lawyers offered her a ’no-win no-fee’ deal.
“In other words, she could drag The Sun into hugely expensive and lengthy litigation with absolutely no financial risk to herself.
“The Government has allowed her to do this under a scheme they call Access To Justice. In all too many cases, as in this one today, it is in fact access to injustice. The Sun story was 100% accurate and we are glad justice has been done.
“This is a good day for The Sun’s journalists and Sun journalism.”