Observers say gaffe could result in massive payout

LONDON — Representatives for actress Brooke Shields are seeing red — and green — after an apparent fact-checking error.

In a front-page story, Sunday’s edition of the British newspaper the Mail reported that Shields was being held by police in the south of France “after suspicion of possessing drugs.” Airport police in Nice told Daily Variety no arrest of any kind took place.

Shields had been at the Cannes fest promoting her pic “The Weekend,” and was on her way to Paris to join husband Andre Agassi, who had been playing in the French Open. Sources said that the “Suddenly Susan” star had asked airport officials for a room away from the paparazzi while waiting for a delayed flight.

Freud Communications, a London-based PR firm for the William Morris Agency, which reps Shields, leapt to action Sunday when most industryites were still making their way back from the Cannes Film Festival.

A statement released by Shields’ personal publicist, Lisa Kasteler, says the actress is “shocked and saddened” by the Mail story, and that “for the first time in its history, the Mail on Sunday will be running a front-page retraction.” The statement went on to say legal proceedings have been initiated against the paper and any other outlets that may have picked up the story from the Mail piece.

Observers said that the gaffe has the potential for one of the U.K.’s largest libel suit payouts in history.

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