MIAMI (Reuters) - Golfer Tiger Woods, fighting to fend off intense media scrutiny over allegations he cheated on his wife, has won a British court order banning publication in Britain of any photos or video showing him nude or having sex.
British law firm Schillings, which specializes in protecting the reputations of celebrities, obtained the injunction on Woods’ behalf on Thursday at the High Court in London, partner Simon Smith told Reuters by phone on Friday.
A letter from the lawyers accompanying the injunction contains a statement that “this Order is not to be taken as an admission that any such photographs exist.”
Woods, 33, the world’s No. 1 golfer, has been engulfed by a storm of media attention since being involved in a minor car accident outside his Florida home before dawn on November 27 in which he suffered facial cuts and bruises.
The celebrity sportsman, who has a Swedish wife and is the father of two young children, later admitted “transgressions” in a statement that apparently addressed allegations he had multiple extra-marital affairs with a range of mistresses.
The court order, a copy of which was published by the U.S. celebrity gossip website TMZ.com, prohibits the publication in the United Kingdom of “Any photographs, footage or images taken or obtained of the Claimant naked or any naked parts of the Claimant’s body or of him involved in any sexual activity.”
U.S. and British tabloid newspapers and media websites have published comments from and photos of a parade of women, including cocktail waitresses and porn stars, who have claimed relationships with Woods.
Without specifically admitting any of the alleged affairs, Woods has asked that his private life be respected.
The scandal has badly dented the golfer’s until now carefully preserved image as a perfectionist sportsman, which formed the basis of lucrative endorsements of various companies that have helped make Woods perhaps the world’s richest athlete, with a fortune estimated at $1 billion.
His commercial sponsors and backers have said they are standing by him.
At least one U.S. publication has said it has been offered pictures of Woods naked.
The High Court order applies to UK territory and is addressed to “person or persons unknown who have taken or obtained or offered for publication” photographs or images or video footage of Woods nude or having sex.
The Schillings letter accompanying the court order says: “Our client is not aware of any images and in any event he would not have consented to any such photographs being taken nor would he have consented to the dissemination or exploitation of the same.”
It adds that “in the event that these photographs do exist, and it is not admitted, any such images may have been fabricated, altered, manipulated and or changed to create the false appearance and impression that they are nude photographs of our client.”
The Florida Highway Patrol has closed its investigation into Woods’ accident after issuing a ticket to him for careless driving and saying no criminal charges would be brought.
His wife, Elin Nordegren, told police she pulled him from the crashed car after using a golf club to smash a window.
The golfer, appealing for privacy, has not confirmed numerous media reports that he was arguing with his wife about his affairs just when the accident occurred.
Woods has paid his $164 traffic fine.
The top draw on the PGA tour, he is chasing Jack Nicklaus’ record for victories in major tournaments and the unofficial title of best golfer ever. Woods has won 71 times on the tour in a spectacular career that includes 14 major wins.
Nicklaus said on Thursday he believed Woods would “figure out” a way through the scandal. (Additional reporting by Tom Brown; Editing by Jim Loney and John O’Callaghan)