The magazine, Yachting World has made a Statement in Open Court [pdf] and agreed to pay substantial libel damages to Tristram Cokes, a catamaran owner wrongly accused of being a convicted cocaine smuggler.
The Claimant is a surfer and has a business which makes surf and windsurf boards. He is the owner of the Orinoco Flo, a catamaran well known in the sailing community. The boat received widespread press attention following the reluctant rescue of its skipper Matt Gill after a demasting in the mid-Atlantic. Mr Gill had borrowed the boat from the Claimant to sail to Antigua and back.
In December 2012 Yachting World ran an article with the headline “The Man who didn’t want to be rescued”. The article concerned Mr Gill and the rescue. However it referred to the Claimant as the owner of the Orinoco Flo and went on to allege he had served time for cocaine smuggling.
This allegation was wholly untrue and obviously extremely damaging to the Claimant. Yachting World had made a mistake. It was a previous owner of the Orinoco Flo who had been imprisoned for smuggling cocaine.
On 15 January 2013 the Defendant made an unqualified offer of amends and a substantial figure for compensation was agreed. The Defendant also agreed to pay his legal costs.
The apology which was agreed had been published in the February issue of Yachting World and was repeated by the Defendant in the Statement in Open Court.