England batsman Kevin Pietersen has accepted substantial undisclosed libel damages over a Specsavers advert which implied that he might have tampered with his bat during the Ashes.
The batsman was not in London at the High Court for the settlement of his action against the optician services group over the “serious and defamatory allegation”.
His solicitor, Louise Prince, told Mr Justice Tugendhat that the “Should’ve gone to Specsavers” advert was published on the company’s Twitter account and Facebook page in August, and also appeared in various newspapers and magazines.
Accompanied by a photo of Pietersen, it contained the statement: “’Bat tampering’ in the #Ashes? Apparently Hot Spot should’ve gone to Specsavers.”
Ms Prince said the allegation of bat tampering was completely untrue and without any foundation whatsoever.
The advert was prompted by controversy in the third Test at Old Trafford in August – a draw between the two sides which meant the home nation retained the Ashes, but a match also blighted by allegations of dishonest tactics.
The allegations stem from the moment when Pietersen decided to review the decision after he was caught behind by Brad Haddin for eight in the second innings.
Although the Hot Spot technology showed no evidence of a mark on the bat, the verdict was upheld by television umpire Kumar Dharmasena, who heard a noise while watching a replay, suggesting contact had been made.
Australian television reports about the possible use of silicone tape to avoid detection by Hot Spot resulted in a firm denial from Pietersen, who took to Twitter to write: “I am never afraid of getting out! If I nick it, I’ll walk . . . To suggest I cheat by covering my bat with silicon infuriates me.
“How stupid would I be to try & hide a nick when it could save me on an LBW appeal, like in 1st innings where hot spot showed I nicked it.”
Specsavers Optical Group Ltd accepted that Pietersen did not behave in the manner suggested, apologised and had already removed the advert from circulation. It also agreed to pay him substantial damages and his legal costs.
The group’s solicitor, Niri Shan, said it did not intend to imply that Pietersen might have tampered with his bat. It acknowledged that the allegation was untrue and apologised for the distress and embarrassment caused.
A spokesman for Pietersen declined to comment. Specsavers said in a statement: “During the 2013 Ashes series we published a ‘Should’ve Gone to Specsavers’ advert which suggested that Kevin Pietersen may have tampered with his bat in an attempt to prevent Hot Spot technology working.
“We did not intend to imply this suggestion.
“We accept that this allegation is untrue and that Kevin Pietersen did not tamper with his bat. We apologise unreservedly for any distress and embarrassment our advert has caused to Kevin Pietersen.
“We have removed the advert from circulation.”