British pop star Robbie Williams has won a libel lawsuit against tabloids that claimed he was secretly gay. He is to receive an undisclosed amount in damages and apologies from the publishers.

The case stems from a story published in 2004, which claimed to have information about “Robbie’s secret gay lover”. According to William’s lawyer, Tom Shields, the piece suggested that the singer was “about to deceive the public” about his sexuality in the autobiography Feel, which was published around the time.

According to the Williams camp, the article alleged that Williams “was a homosexual who had engaged in casual and sordid homosexual encounters with strangers”, including enticing a stranger into a toilet in a Manchester club where the two men performed sex acts on each other.

Magazine publishers Northern & Shell Plc, which ran similar stories, along with People publishers MGN Ltd, have now admitted that the allegations were not true. Shields read a statement in open court that said that “Mr Williams is not and never has been homosexual. Accordingly, he did not attempt to conceal his true sexuality in the book.”

He said both publishers had agreed to pay “substantial damages” and publish prominent apologies. Zoe Norden, solicitor for MGN and Northern & Shell, has already done so. He said, “I accept that the allegations were untrue. The defendants apologise to the claimant and expresses regret for the injury and distress caused.”

Williams, who has often been ambiguous about his sexuality in magazine interviews, and has openly coveted the gay market, also won costs in the matter. He will be performing in South Africa in April next year to already sold-out concerts.

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