Troubled Hollywood actor Tom Cruise is suing the publishers of US magazine Life and Style for $50 million over a cover claiming he had abandoned his daughter Suri, his lawyer said Wednesday.
The weekly's 30 July issue splashed with the headline "Suri in tears, abandoned by her dad," over a picture of the sobbing six-year-old, living with her mother Katie Holmes since her shock divorce announcement weeks earlier.
Cruise's lawyer Bert Fields called the magazine's publishers "sleaze peddlers," and said he filed a defamation lawsuit on Wednesday in the US District Court in Los Angeles, seeking damages of $50-million.
"Tom is a caring father who dearly loves Suri. She's a vital part of his life and always will be. To say he has 'abandoned' her is a vicious lie," Fields said in a statement.
"To say it in lurid headlines with a tearful picture of Suri is reprehensible," he added.
In the lawsuit, a copy of which was obtained by celebrity news website TMZ, Cruise's lawyers note that the story inside the magazine does not repeat the "abandonment" claims set out in the cover headline.
The story explains that, in the photo used on the cover, Suri was in tears after being unable to take a puppy home from a pet store, not due to being abandoned by her father.
But the full story "would not be seen by the vast majority of people who saw the cover," typically on display at supermarket check-outs, it noted.
Holmes announced on 28 June that she was filing for divorce to end her five-year marriage to Cruise, who was reportedly taken completely by surprise by the bombshell.
The couple — who wed in November 2006 after a whirlwind romance and a proposal beneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris — struck a divorce settlement less than two weeks later.
Under its terms, Suri lives in New York with her mother while Cruise gets extensive rights to visit and spend time with her.
The actor's lawyer denied that Cruise wanted to make money from the lawsuit, saying he just wants to clear his name.
"Tom doesn't go round suing people. He's not a litigious guy. But when these sleaze peddlers try to make money with disgusting lies about his relationship with his child, you bet he's going to sue," he said.
He added: "These serial defamers are foreign-owned companies with their global headquarters in Hamburg. They take money from unsuspecting Americans by selling their malicious garbage.
"Having to pay a libel judgment may slow them down. Tom will undoubtedly give the money to charity. He always has," he added.
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