Child star Mark Lester has been awarded substantial libel damages after launching a legal action against the Daily Mail newspaper.

The actor - who rose to fame in Oliver! - sued the paper after he alleged he had assaulted his ex-wife and allowed his three-year-old son to sleep in the same bedroom as pop star Michael Jackson.

His solicitor David Price said Mr Lester was "deeply hurt and upset by the article" which was published after the break-up of his marriage in March.

Lindsey Hodgkinson, the newspaper's solicitor, said she agreed with Mr Price and offered the Mail's apologies to Mr Lester, who now works as an osteopath in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

Speaking in the high court in London, Mr Price said the newspaper's allegations were "untrue".

"The claimant has never assaulted his ex-wife. The claimant is a friend of Michael Jackson but at no time has his son or any of his children slept in the same bedroom as the star," he added.

The newspaper's article had been "extremely damaging to his reputation both personally and professionally and which also caused immense distress to his children".

"He was not prepared to allow it to remain unchallenged and therefore brought this claim for libel."

Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Daily Mail, agreed to pay substantial damages along with legal costs, though the agreed sum was not disclosed in court.

09/12/2008 15:34:34