As Pitt and Jolie sue NoW, will Mail retract story?
‘Brangelina’ launch lawsuit in London over ‘false and intrusive’ report of split
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have decided to sue the News of the World for reporting last month that they were splitting up and had visited a divorce lawyer - even though they have never married - to help divide their £205m joint fortune and settle the custody of their six children.
Because the paper refused to publish a retraction after being told "unequivocally" that the story was false, the couple have been advised by their London lawyers Shillings to sue not just for libel but for "misuse of private information".
Keith Schilling said: "The News of the World has failed to meet our clients' reasonable demands for a retraction of and apology for these false and intrusive allegations, which have now been widely republished by mainstream news outlets. We have advised them to bring proceedings, which they have now done."
The statement from Shillings also included a letter from the Hollywood divorce lawyer Sorrell Trope, who was subsequently identified by some media outlets as the attorney Pitt and Jolie had "consulted".
Trope, the 82-year-old whom Tiger Woods's wife was said to have contacted in the immediate wake of her husband's "indiscretions", wrote: "I have had no contact from... Angelina Jolie and / or Brad Pitt. I have never met... your clients or had any involvement with either of them. The foregoing is true with respect to all other members of this firm."
As The First Post has noted ever since the News of the World published its story, neither of the two big American gossip sites, TMZ or Radar, has backed the British tabloid, which seemed to go out on its own with the story. Both sites reported friends of the couple and Hollywood sources saying the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sunday tabloid had got it wrong.
However, one US-based showbiz writer has stuck his neck out - Ian Halperin. Fleet Street watchers were wondering last night whether the Mail organisation would retract an "exclusive" by Halperin in the February 7 edition of the Mail on Sunday in which he claimed that the couple's relationship was "a façade to protect the double A-list Brangelina brand".
Lawyers were discussing the division of wealth and custody of Pitt and Jolie's family, claimed Halperin. "The split is not hypothetical - it will be soon," he wrote, before going on to claim that Jolie was "already mapping out her future... By the time the break-up is formally made public, she will have her eyes on a new man."
Halperin claimed that "Jolie's romantic ambitions now run far beyond showbusiness" and finished his article by reporting the "fanciful"
speculation that she might even have set her sights on Bill Clinton.
The article was published the day before Shillings issued their statement, and the morning before Pitt and Jolie appeared together at the Super Bowl in Miami, kissing and laughing together in the VIP section, and, as owners of a home in New Orleans, rooting for the victorious Saints.