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Atkinson accepts apology, damages

Actor Rowan Atkinson has accepted an apology and damages from newspapers that had made false claims about the actor's mental state.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson accepted undisclosed damages and a public apology Thursday from newspapers that had alleged he was suffering from depression and on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

The 49-year-old star of “Blackadder” and “Mr. Bean” attended London’s High Court for the settlement of his libel action against Associated Newspapers over articles in the Mail on Sunday and the Daily Mail in December 2003 and January 2004.

Afterward, Atkinson told reporters that such reports were “indicative of a continuing sensationalizing and stigmatizing of the issue of mental health, and of the condition of depression in particular — from which I am fortunate enough never to have suffered.”

He said he planned to give the money to a mental health charity.

The newspapers had claimed Atkinson was suffering from severe depression that required five weeks of treatment in a United States clinic and that he was taking time out from his acting career. They also suggested he was on the edge of a nervous breakdown and questioned his ability to continue working.

ssociated Newspapers agreed to publish an apology, and to pay damages and Atkinson’s legal costs. The company’s lawyer, Rebecca Jackson, said that it was happy to accept that the allegations were untrue.