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Parker fined for defamation

American wine critic Robert Parker was fined €2,000 by a French court last week for making false accusations against his one-time associate, Hanna Agostini.

Following the publication of Agostini’s controversial book, The Anatomy of a Myth, last year, the US critic said on his bulletin board that the author was facing a jail term of five years and a possible fine of €1m (£0.7m, US$1.5m) for fraud and misrepresentation. He added that the charges against her were ‘overwhelming’.

Agostini’s lawyer, however, told the Associated Press news agency that Agostini was only under investigation for falsifying documents and using them.

The investigation is part of a case dating back to 2002, which involves Agostini and the Belgian wine merchant Geens.

According to the judge, Philippe Jean-Draeher, any reader of Parker’s comments ‘would be left in no doubt as to Agostini’s guilt’.

‘Such remarks, expressed without the least amount of reserve, are an incontestable attack on the presumption of innocence,’ he said, and ordered Parker to pay €2,000 (£1,500, US$3,000) compensation.

Parker was originally outspoken in his support of Agostini, who translated his guides into French, and whom he said was being victimised in an attempt to discredit him.

In July 2003 he told decanter.com, and the Guardian newspaper, that the suit against Agostini was the result of his unwillingness to kowtow to the ‘old guard’ of Bordeaux and was an attempt to ’embarrass and discredit’ him.

Robert Parker’s office told decanter.com he had no comment, ‘other than that he will be appealing the French court’s decision.’

Written by Oliver Styles, and agencies

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