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David Beckham's magazine case fails

US judge rules libel and slander claim against magazine lacked evidence of "actual malice."

David Beckham has had a $25m ($15.5m) libel and slander case against a celebrity magazine which made claims about his private life dismissed by a federal judge in Los Angeles.

Beckham's lawyers began legal action in September after In Touch magazine published an article that claimed he had an affair with 26-year-old former prostitute Irma Nici, an allegation which Beckham denies.

Judge Manuel Real dismissed the case after denying a request by Beckham's lawyer, Richard Kendall, to allow the case to continue while he conducted depositions to improve Beckham's case.

Judge Real said Beckham's lawyers had failed to produce enough evidence to suggest In Touch magazine had acted with malice, which is a requirement of libel cases in the US.

Kendall said Beckham intended to appeal the decision and said a basic investigation by the magazine would have shown that Beckham was in England visiting his sick father when he was alleged to have been with Nici.

Elizabeth McNamara, lawyer for the Bauer publishing company, which owns In Touch, said: ""Obviously, we're pleased. We think the court followed the law and did the correct thing."

She added that the magazine had done everything in its power to corroborate Nici's claims.

In a declaration to the court Beckham, who plays for Los Angeles Galaxy, said: ""I have never met Nici, let alone committed adultery with Nici or paid her for sex."

In a statement, Beckham's publicist, Jeff Raymond, said: "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."