Express Newspapers, the owners of the UK-based Daily Star newspaper, have today announced that they are to pay Take-Two, publishers of Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series, ‘substantial damages’ in relation to a story they published in July this year that claimed Rockstar were developing the next GTA game, with the intended title of Grand Theft Auto: Rothbury. This game would supposedly focus on the exploits of Raoul Moat, who shot three people in the UK before killing himself in the midst of a police standoff.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Moat was a 37 year-old former convict, who it has been claimed was addicted to steroids. Angry at his ex-girlfriend and her new lover, Moat shot and seriously wounded his ex-girlfriend, and killed her partner. Moat later also shot and permanently blinded a police officer before going on the run. He evaded capture for six days, during which one of the largest manhunts in modern British police history was conducted, before Moat was finally discovered and surrounded. During the standoff, Moat shot and killed himself.
The Daily Star reported, just a couple of weeks after the incident, that Rockstar were planning to develop a game based on Moat’s exploits, and, despite not contacting the company for comment, they ran the story. Instead of contacting the company, they instead contacted the grandmother of Moat’s ex-girlfriend, who claimed the (fabricated) game was ‘blood money’. The newspaper also went to the lengths of mocking up a picture of the games supposed cover.
Today, however, high court judge Mr Justice Tugendhat, who presided over the case, ruled that Express Newspapers and the Daily Star had run the story in error, and were to compensate Take-Two. The newspaper group released a statement admitting that ‘Rockstar Games never had any intention to create such a video game at any time’ and that ‘the story was entirely false’. Rockstar and Take-Two have yet to comment on the case.
- Jack Moulder