Kevin Spacey overturns UK ruling in sex assault case over lawyers' mistake

FILE PHOTO: Kevin Spacey appears in court as jury continues to deliberate, in London

By Sam Tobin

LONDON (Reuters) - Oscar-winning U.S. actor Kevin Spacey on Tuesday overturned a London court ruling which effectively found him liable for an alleged sexual assault on a British man, after his lawyers mistakenly failed to serve a defence to a civil lawsuit.

Spacey is being sued at London's High Court by a man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, who alleges that in 2008 he was sexually assaulted by the Hollywood star. The actor has denied the allegations.

In 2022, the 64-year-old was charged in Britain with nine sexual offences against four men between 2004 and 2013 but was acquitted of all charges after a high-profile trial last year.

One of those four complainants separately sued Spacey in a civil lawsuit at London's High Court in 2022.

Earlier this year, a judge granted the man "judgment in default" – a ruling in his favour without a trial – after Spacey's lawyers failed to serve a defence to the lawsuit in time.

Adam Speker, a lawyer representing Spacey, said it was a "genuine error" by the actor's legal team from the prominent British law firm Carter-Ruck.

Speker argued it would be unfair for the claimant to effectively win his lawsuit against Spacey without a trial when he had been "disbelieved on oath by a jury".

Judge Jeremy Cook ruled in Spacey's favour and overturned the judgment in default against the actor.

"The defendant's solicitors have made an error," Cook said. "In my view, that error should not be visited upon the defendant."

Tuesday's ruling means that the claimant's case against Spacey will proceed towards a full trial.

The ruling comes a day after Britain's Channel 4 broadcast a documentary featuring testimony from several men who made allegations of inappropriate behaviour by Spacey.

Spacey gave an interview to British broadcaster Dan Wootton ahead of the broadcast in which he denied any illegal activity and said he would not allow himself to be "baselessly attacked without defending himself".

"I take full responsibility for my past behaviour and my actions, but I cannot and will not take responsibility or apologise to anyone who’s made up stuff about me or exaggerated stories about me," he said.

(Reporting by Sam Tobin; Editing by Alison Williams)