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    Elton Collects over Rude Ball Claims

    For London's Sunday Times, sorry seemed to be the hardest word. Of course, the sizable cash payout probably smarted a bit, too.

    The British newspaper on Thursday offered an apology and undisclosed financial settlement to Elton John Thursday, stemming from a libel suit filed last summer by the multiple Grammy-winning singer.

    The Rocket Man was ticked off over a June 2005 story in the Times claiming he had acted "in a self-important, arrogant and rude manner" during his annual AIDS Foundation Summer Ball.

    The article, titled "Rock Royals Get Too Grand," alleged the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer issued a "bizarre and absurd edict to guests at his annual charity fundraising White Tie and Tiara summer ball not to address him unless spoken to."

    John's attorney, Hanna Basha, claimed the story had caused the pop superstar "considerable embarrassment and distress, particularly because he feared it would be damaging to his fundraising efforts."

    For its part, Times Newspapers Ltd. did an about-face on the report, acknowledging the story was false and that it should not have been published.

    "As soon as the defendant found out the story was untrue--it had been picked up from another newspaper--it immediately apologized to Sir Elton and it is happy to repeat that apology here today," Times lawyer Alastair Brett told London's High Court.

    In its settlement, the Times agreed to pay all legal fees to John, 58, as well as the undisclosed damages. The singer, who was not in court for his victory, will donate the money to his Elton John AIDS Foundation.

    The Daily Mail, that British beacon of tabloid integrity responsible for the original report, still faces legal action.

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