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Elton John sues paper over bulimia allegations

By
TAMARA EICHORN

LONDON -- A lawyer for pop singer Elton John argued Tuesday that the Sunday Mirror newspaper acted recklessly in publishing a freelance news story falsely claiming the superstar, a recovered bulimic, was chewing food and spitting it out at a Hollywood party.

John's solicitor, his manager, John Reid, the latter's personnal assistant and John's press officer all testified Tuesday that no one from the Sunday Mirror tried to contact them about the story, which ran under the headlines 'Elton's Diet of Death' and 'Spitting Image.'

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The article was published in December 1992, two years after John had undergone six weeks of treatment at Lutheran General Hospital in Chicago to help him overcome long-term alcohol and drug addiction and the eating disorder bulimia. The musician had publicly disclosed his addictions and his treatment for recovery.

John's lawyer George Carman argued that the Sunday Mirror's editor would have known about John's previous medical problems and should have verified the information in the freelance news story.

He charged that the Sunday Mirror had benefited economically from publishing the story. Carman said the article was 'a commercial advantage for the Mirror and helped to increase the circulation of the paper.'

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The Sunday Mirror has admitted the story was untrue and apologized. It offered to print an apology, pay John's legal costs and donate to a charity of his choice. John refused the deal because the paper has denied libel and claimed a case of mistaken identity.

John, who attended the second day of proceedings Tuesday, told the court Monday his treatment for addiction was one of the best things he has done.

'The single most worthwhile and difficult thing I have done in my life was to admit that I had a problem with food, drugs and alcohol and begin the recovery process,' he said.

'My recovery means more to me than anything, because my life since I've been clean and abstinent has been the best three years of my life,' he added.

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