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"World's worst" tennis player loses libel action

Mrs Justice Sharp rules in favour of the Daily Telegraph.

Robert Dee, the British tennis player who recently ended his losing streak of 54 matches, has not managed to overcome the Telegraph's description of him as the "world's worst" tennis pro.

After being described as such in April 2008, Dee turned to litigation. He has since won over 30 retractions and tens of thousands of pounds in damages.

Dee, from Bexley in Kent, argued that the Telegraph's articles implied "that he unreasonably and unrealistically persists in a career as a professional tennis player which is an expensive waste of money and doomed to failure".

However, Mrs Justice Sharp ruled in favour of the newspaper, saying that Dee "is objectively the worst professional tennis player in the world, in terms of his playing skills".

Reuters previously revealed that it was left with legal costs of £250,000 after it contested a claim from Dee and then opted to settle.

In evidence to the Commons the agency said: "This was not a desperately important story, nor was it a story which required much in the way of investigation or defence in the event that it was eventually to come to court. The tennis player employed his solicitors on a no-win no-fee basis.

"Reuters was extremely keen to defend the allegation. It thought that what it had published was basically true. There were, as there always are, slight niggles over aspects of the report, but basically Reuters was very keen to defend the case, and wanted to defend the case; it wanted to show that its journalists had done a proper job.

"Eventually it decided that it had really no option but to settle because it was faced with potential costs of trial for this comparatively unimportant libel case of £1.2 million."