THE boss of Wales 2010 Ryder Cup venue who was accused of extending his course across a conservation area has received substantial damages from a Scottish newspaper.
The owner of The Celtic Manor Resort, Sir Terence Matthews, successfully sued the Sunday Mail following a High Court hearing, in London.
The court heard that the Sunday Mail made untrue allegations that Sir Terence had little or no regard for nature or conservation in his plans to develop his Gwent course to win the Ryder Cup bid.
In a story published in June last year and headlined Otter Madness, the newspaper claimed that in pursuit of profits to be made from developing the Newport-based course, Sir Terence was more than happy to wipe out an colony of rare otters.
It also claimed that his plans would mean the course extending into land that had been designated as a Special Area of Conservation and that the works could also damage ancient Roman remains.
The changes to the Wentwood Hills course would see seven holes created on land in the Usk Valley and were handed planning permission in June last year.
Guy Martin, representing Sir Terence, said: "The proposed development will not wipe out a colony of rare otters.
"Newport Borough Council has imposed conditions in relation to the granting of planning permission which Sir Terence's team will comply with so as to safeguard the interests of nature conservation and to ensure that no disturbance is caused to otters moving up or down the River Usk.
"Moreover, no part of the course will extend into any land designated as a Special Area of Conservation and Sir Terence's team has undertaken extensive surveys to ensure that there is no threat to the Roman remains on the site."
In a statement in Open Court, the paper accepted that the allegations were untrue and has withdrawn and undertaken never to repeat them. The paper also agreed to pay substantial damages and costs.
Adam Wolanski, counsel for the defendant, said: "The defendant apologises to Sir Terence for the false allegations it published and undertakes never to repeat them."
Speaking after the hearing, Sir Terence said: "My aim was to set the record straight and protect my reputation and I am pleased with the outcome.
"In line with the Welsh bid's philosophy of golf for all, I intend to use the damages paid to help young people have greater access to coaching and competition. Who knows this unfortunate episode could have the positive effect of helping Wales to discover the next Ian Woosnam."