LONDON — Manchester United and England star Rio Ferdinand told the High Court here on Tuesday of his anger at a 'kiss and tell' newspaper story about an alleged affair.
The 32-year-old defender, who has three children with his wife Rebecca, described the article published in the Sunday Mirror in April 2010 as "a gross invasion of my privacy".
Ferdinand is seeking substantial damages from the newspaper's owners MGN Ltd for misuse of private information.
He said he felt "angry and upset" when he learned two weeks ago that the woman who made the claims, Carly Storey, was paid £16,000 by the paper.
In a witness statement to the court, Ferdinand said the article caused "great distress not only to me but also to my wife and family".
He said: "It has been stressful and embarrassing for me to have to explain it to fellow professionals as well as family members and friends, and it has inevitably put a strain on my relationship with my wife.
"People also started shouting things out at me in the street after the article was published -- things like 'Where's your new bird (girlfriend)?'"
Ferdinand, dressed in a smart blue suit, said he had "not met this girl for six years" by the time the article was published.
"It was stressful and very uncomfortable for me to have to do things like collect my kids from school, knowing that other parents there may have read the article and not realised that it was essentially a very old story."
Ferdinand added: "Although I am a well-known person I make a clear distinction between my public and private life and do not seek publicity for my personal life.
"I do not see why I should not be entitled to a private life just because I am a famous footballer."
The case hinges on the question of whether the newspaper was justified in publishing its story because the public interest was such that its right to freedom of expression was of a greater importance than Ferdinand's right to privacy under the Human Rights Act.
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