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Mr Bean full of beans

London, April 22 (Reuters): British comic actor Rowan Atkinson won “substantial damages” from a newspaper group today over claims he was suffering from severe depression and “heading for a breakdown”.

The Mr Bean and Johnny English star sued Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Mail on Sunday and Daily Mail, over articles which claimed he was receiving treatment for depression in a US clinic.

“Although these ludicrous, hurtful and irresponsible allegations...have been successfully refuted, their publication was indicative of continuing sensationalising and stigmatising of the issue of mental health and of the condition of depression in particular, which I am fortunate enough never to have suffered,” Atkinson said outside London’s High Court. The articles appeared in January 2004 and December 2003.

The 49-year-old actor said the “very substantial” five-figure damages would be donated to a mental health charity. His lawyer Martin Cruddace earlier told the court that a Mail on Sunday headline contained the phrase: “Why Mr Bean fears he’s a has-been,” and a Daily Mail article was headlined: “Is Mr Bean heading for a breakdown'”

Cruddace said it was suggested that Atkinson was suffering from severe depression and he was taking time off from acting.

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