Kate Hudson Accepts Libel Damages for Weight Story

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Kate Hudson has accepted libel damages from the British edition of the National Enquirer for an article that claimed she was dangerously thin -- the weekly tabloid's second settlement with a Hollywood celebrity in recent days.

The publication has agreed to pay undisclosed damages and print an apology for an October 2005 story that claimed Hudson was "way too thin" and looked "like skin and bones," Simon Smith, a lawyer for the 27-year-old actress, said Thursday.

Hudson's settlement came two days after the National Enquirer's British edition apologized to Britney Spears for reporting in two stories last month that she was ready to divorce Kevin Federline.

American Media Inc., the tabloid's Boca Raton, Fla.-based publisher, apologized to Hudson for "the deep distress and acute embarrassment" the allegations, which it acknowledged were false, had caused.

The article -- accompanied by a photo of a gaunt-looking Hudson -- claimed that Goldie Hawn planned to confront her daughter about her weight. Both Hudson and Hawn denied the claim.

"The allegations that I sued over were blatantly false, and I felt I had no choice but to set the record straight by challenging them in court," Hudson said in a statement.

Smith said Hudson lost weight to get in shape for a film after giving birth to her son, Ryder, in January 2004. He said she took legal action over the magazine's suggestion she had "recklessly and foolishly endangered her health" by failing to eat.

David Perel, editor-in-chief of the National Enquirer, said the U.S. edition did not carry the offending article or photo of Hudson.

The U.S. and British versions of the weekly have "separate editorial staffs that make separate decisions on whether to run a story and where they run it," Perel said in a phone interview.

He described the settlement as "a trivial matter fought in a foreign jurisdiction."

Perel said the National Enquirer internally labels its British version as the "UK Enquirer" to emphasize its separate identity from the U.S. parent.

However, the publication's masthead in Britain and Ireland reads: "National Enquirer, Hollywood's Hottest Weekly." It has no listed British office.

Legal experts say cases such as those of Hudson and Spears against primarily U.S.-produced publications reflect a growing trend of "libel tourism" -- filing claims in Britain because of plaintiff-friendly libel laws.

In the U.S., celebrities generally can succeed in a libel claim only if they can prove a publication published a false allegation with malicious intent. In Britain, the burden of proof falls on the periodical to demonstrate what it published was true.