Developer and publisher Rockstar has won “substantial” damages from The Daily Star following its claim in July that the company was planning a new Grand Theft Auto based on the Rothbury shootings.
The Daily Star report centred on a mocked-up cover for the fictional title. The author of the story, journalist Jerry Lawton, claimed to be “baffled” by the reaction to the piece, though just days later the tabloid apologised for the story.
“The article alleged that the claimant was proposing to release a new version of its highly successful Grand Theft Auto video game series which they claimed was to be entitled 'Grand Theft Auto Rothbury',” Rockstar’s solicitor Melanie Hart stated, as reported by PressGazette.
“It was claimed that this new game would be based on the tragedy which culminated in the events at Rothbury in July 2010. The article was illustrated by an image which purported to be the cover of the new video game. The defendant solicited and published quotes from third parties, including one from a grieving relative of a victim of Mr Moat, in which the alleged plan to create such a game was described as 'sick' and deplored in the strongest terms.
“In a leader, the defendant commented that the people behind the production of the video game were 'questionable idiots' who were making money out of other people's misery.”
Express Newspapers counsel Clare Kissin added: “Express Newspapers Ltd accepts that the allegations made against Rockstar Games are untrue. The defendant apologises for the upset and damage caused.”