DAVID and Victoria Beckham have been accused of hiding an alleged breakdown of their marriage behind a public relations campaign, in order to keep their lucrative advertising deals intact.

The Real Madrid footballer and his wife are suing the News Of The World over an article published last year (04) in which their former nanny, ABBIE GIBSON, claimed the Beckham's marriage has broken down.

The Sunday newspaper printed another story last year in which David's former personal assistant Rebecca Loos claimed she enjoyed a steamy affair with her employer when Victoria was away on business. The Beckhams have denied the validity of her allegations but have not taken legal action.

During the pretrial hearing at London's law courts yesterday (17OCT05), defence lawyer RICHARD SPEARMAN, QC, told presiding judge MR JUSTICE GRAY, "Because their substantial fortunes depend upon their public perception, the claimants have been cynically and hypocritically trying - for financial reasons - to convince the public that they continue to enjoy a happy marriage.

"The true position is that their marriage has been rocked and seriously damaged by the first claimant's (David's) infidelity and betrayal of the second claimant (Victoria), leading to inevitable tensions and rows between them."

The Beckhams countered in a statement delivered to the court by their legal representative HUGH TOMLINSON, QC.

He said on their behalf, "We do not deny that we promote ourself as a happily married couple. We say that because it's true."