Ashley Cole’s solicitors then utilised an advertisement on PinkNews.co.uk to find out the extent to which readers looked at the stories about unnamed gay footballers and then looked on the internet to link them with Ashley Cole
After months of legal wrangling, the News of the World and The Sun agreed to pay damages, believed to be £100,000 to Mr Cole and damages to Mr Thompson (Masterstepz). Had PinkNews.co.uk, at that point a start-up been faced with sharing the damages, it would have been forced to close.
An apology printed on page three of the News of the World stated: “‘Although the photograph was pixellated some readers have understood Mr Cole to be one of the footballers and Masterstepz to be the DJ concerned. We are happy to make clear that Mr Cole and Masterstepz were not involved in any such activities. We apologise to them for any distress caused and we will be paying them each a sum in the way of damages.”
While the News of the World confirmed that the footballer involved was not Ashley Cole, it never named any other footballer as being part of the alleged orgy and never returned to the story. News International, the parent company of The Sun and the News of the World later confirmed that it would take no action against PinkNews.co.uk