Tomato stunt left council in the red

A former city mayor was ruing an expensive slip-up after his failure to vault a giant human tomato cost his council £24,000.

Jim Rodgers accidentally kicked Belfast City Council employee Lorraine Mallon in the head in a publicity stunt that went spectacularly wrong.

Ms Mallon, who was dressed up for a photo shoot to promote a gourmet food fair, suffered a slipped disc in the ill-fated leap.

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She brought a negligence case against the council and a settlement was reached this week in Belfast High Court.

She has been paid 24,021.75 with the council also agreeing to cover the cost of the action.

Egged on by press photographers, Mr Rodgers tried to jump over her but he slipped on wet grass on his run up and ended up kneeing her in the back of the head.

The Ulster Unionist councillor yesterday said it would not be appropriate for him to comment on the outcome of the case.

But at the time of the incident in September 2007 the red-faced first citizen apologised.

"I have been absolutely devastated over what has happened," he said.