AN academic who libelled a ''significant and well-established'' publisher in his blog apologised at the High Court today.

A judge heard that Thom Brooks, a reader in the politics department at the University of Newcastle, had also agreed to pay Edwin Mellen Press Limited and its editor-in- chief, Dr Herbert Richardson, ''an appropriate sum by way of damages and costs''.

Their solicitor, Simon Gallant, told Mr Justice Eady at a hearing in London that the defendant ''is the publisher of an online publication called The Brooks Blog''.

The action concerned two articles written by Dr Brooks and published on the blog.

Mr Gallant said: ''The claimants also sued the defendant over several postings made by third parties on the blog that had been prompted by the two articles written by the defendant.

''The various articles and postings contained a number of grievous allegations about the claimants and their business operations.

''The defendant now accepts that there was no truth in any of those allegations and that the criticisms he made of the claimants and their business were unjustified.''

Mr Gallant read out a statement on behalf of Dr Brooks, who was unable to be in court today.

Dr Brooks said: ''Having had the true facts brought to my attention I accept that the Edwin Mellen Press is highly regarded amongst the academic and university communities in the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

''It has published the works of more that 5,000 authors, many of whom are leaders in their fields of scholarly research.

''Contrary to allegations that I had previously made I accept without reservation that Mellen does not charge authors anything to have their works published.

''Mellen's books are well reviewed in scholarly journals. They are acquired by research libraries around the world, including Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Paris and Berlin.''

He added that he offered his ''sincere apologies'' to the claimants.