Zhang Ziyi (章子怡) has successfully won a libel lawsuit against two Hong Kong magazines for publishing baseless allegations that she had slept with China’s top officials for money.
On May 29, 2012, Hong Kong’s tabloid newspaper Apple Daily published an article about Ziyi’s supposed involvement with China’s former senior official Bo Xilai (薄熙來), who was making headlines over a major corruption scandal.
Apple Daily alleged that Ziyi had prostituted herself to Bo and was banned from leaving China pending an investigation.
On May 31, 2012, Next Magazine followed up on the story with a piece detailing Ziyi’s alleged sexual involvement with top officials and wealthy businessmen, claiming that the movie star has made over 700 million RMB over a ten year period from these indecent transactions. Both publications sourced the false information from U.S.-based Chinese news site, Boxun.
Ziyi filed for libel charges against the three media companies within weeks. Boxun has since retracted its articles and issued a public apology. The case against Apple Daily and Next Magazine went to court in Hong Kong on November 29, 2013. The High Court threw out the companies’ counter-claims, citing a lack of evidence.
The two were given twenty-one days to re-submit their defense or else Ziyi would win by default. Ziyi also sued for $600,000 HKD in legal costs, though the magazines have decided to appeal their case.
According to a Jayne Stars report, the court resumed on January 20, 2014. Since Apple Daily and Next Magazine were unable to produce acceptable proof to back their stories, the judge ultimately ruled in Ziyi’s favor.
The companies then raised objection over the amount of legal costs they are responsible for, saying that Ziyi did not have to hire an expensive senior counsel to fight a simple case.
The judge ruled that Ziyi is justified in hiring a high-caliber lawyer due to the nature of the defamation and the impact it could have on her global reputation. Ziyi was awarded $390,000 HKD in legal costs in the end.
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