England and Arsenal star Ashley Cole has started legal action against the News of the World and the Sun for harassment, libel and breach of privacy, in relation to articles describing an alleged gay orgy.

Although the footballer, who is engaged to Girls Aloud singer Cheryl Tweedy, was not directly named in any of the stories, the 25 year old’s lawyers complained that the photograph and accompanying text in the articles suggested he was one of the players involved. They said their client denied involvement in a sexual relationship with another Premiership footballer or with any other man.

Last month the News of the World claimed that two unnamed footballers were caught on camera in an orgy with a well known music industry figure. The newspaper claims that one player engaged in sexual acts using a mobile phone as a sex toy.

The tabloid published alleged pictures of two of the figures involved but hid their faces. The story was followed by internet rumours and speculations on blogs and websites about the identity of the stars. PinkNews.co.uk was the first accredited publication to print what it believed to be the unedited version of the images from the paper.

“Music Figure A” and “Player A” (Source: News of the World)

MasterStepz and Ashley Cole (Source: Choice FM)

His lawyer, Graham Shear, said in a statement: “These proceedings were commenced because these newspapers published false and offensive articles designed to tell readers that Ashley had behaved in what the News of the World described as a ‘perverted’ way with other professional footballers.”

“The newspapers knew there was no basis to name Ashley but arranged the articles and pictures in such a way that readers would identify him.

“There is no truth whatever in these allegations. Ashley Cole will not tolerate this kind of cowardly journalism or let it go unchallenged.

“It is disgraceful that he should be faced with this kind of unpleasant insinuation and innuendo at a time when he is trying to focus on this summer’s World Cup and his forthcoming wedding.”

PinkNews.co.uk editor Benjamin Cohen said: : “We took an editorial decision to publish the photographs together with an animated comparison between the photographs printed in the News of the World and the Choice FM website.”

Both photographs superimposed on each other

“All we sought to prove was that the photographs were of the same individuals and not to make any inferences as to the sexuality of the men pictured.”

“We have no reason to doubt the testimony of Mr Cole and his assertions that he has not had relationships with the man pictured or indeed any man.”

“I am still perplexed as to why the News of the World decided to run the story at all. There is nothing illegal about being gay and individuals have the right to privacy in regards to their sexuality and other sensitive areas of their lives.”

Meanwhile a dance music DJ has filed a similar claim against the papers.