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Posh Spice settles slander case

Beckhams are among England's top celebrity couples.

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LONDON, England -- Former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham has agreed to pay 55,000 ($88,000) in damages to settle a slander case over a disputed autograph of her footballer husband, David.

The singer also apologized to the sports memorabilia shop owners who brought the civil suit.

The Beckhams were not at London's High Court on Tuesday to hear the resolution of the case, which was launched after the pop star visited GT's Recollections at a shopping center in Kent, southeast of London, in March 2001.

Beckham had spotted a signed picture of her husband -- the England captain and Manchester United midfielder -- in the shop and loudly accused the owners, Tim and Glynis McManus and their son Anthony, of selling a fake autograph.

"When Mrs. Beckham entered the shop, there was a picture of David Beckham in a display cabinet at the entrance, and it was autographed by Mr. Beckham," the McManuses' attorney, Michael Skrein, told the court.

"Mrs. Beckham's attention was drawn to the autograph. She thought that it was not genuine, and said so in the shop."

Newspapers reported the visit and said Beckham loudly proclaimed the store was "ripping off" customers. Skrein said the reports damaged his clients' business.

No offensive language

"The McManuses had obtained the autographed photograph of David Beckham from someone they believed to be a reputable dealer," Skrein said. "They firmly believe, as they always have, that the autograph of Mr. Beckham is genuine."

Victoria Beckham's lawyer, Justin Rushbrooke, said she apologized for the hurt and damage which the McManuses had suffered.

"Mrs. Beckham happily accepts that the McManuses are honest and reputable traders and seek to obtain their memorabilia from respected sources.

"Indeed, she never intended it to be suggested otherwise, and simply thought the signature of her husband was not genuine.

"She is keen to take this opportunity for me to join in the making of this statement on her behalf in the genuine hope that the McManus family can carry on their business successfully."

Rushbrooke added that press reports claiming Mrs. Beckham had been rude to the point of using offensive language were not true.

Skrein said Beckham would also give the McManuses a set of merchandise signed by her husband.

The McManuses had sought 500,000 ($800,000) in damages. In addition to the damages, Beckham also faces court costs estimated at more than 100,000.

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