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Rugby and TV star Gareth Thomas sued over claims he gave ex-partner HIV

Gareth Thomas is being sued by former partner Ian Baum who alleges he lied about his HIV status and then “deceptively” infected him (PA)
Gareth Thomas is being sued by former partner Ian Baum who alleges he lied about his HIV status and then “deceptively” infected him (PA)

Former Wales captain and international rugby star turned LGBT campaigner Gareth Thomas has been accused of “deceptively” transmitting HIV to an ex-partner.

The 48-year-old is being sued in the High Court by his former boyfriend Ian Baum for allegedly hiding his HIV status and “failing to take reasonable care” not to pass the infection on.

Mr Thomas reportedly intends to strongly contest the claim.

His representatives were contacted for a comment.

If Mr Baum wins in court, he could claim damages of £150,000 or more, the PA news agency understands.

The pair were in a relationship between 2013-2016.

Mr Baum claims he was HIV negative when they first became an item, court papers said.

He said he noticed the sportsman was taking pills from bottles which had the labels ripped off them but was told they were multivitamins.

He alleges he found out Mr Thomas, also known as Alfie, had HIV after finding a tablet marked GSK1.

Graham Norton Show – London
Gareth Thomas is a former sports star and TV personality who is an LGBT+ advocate and HIV campaigner (PA)

“On googling the GSK1 pill, the claimant discovered that the defendant was taking anti-viral HIV medication,” documents said.

Mr Baum said he “immediately” went to get a rapid HIV test and, after finding out the same day he was positive, felt “devastated” and went into “shock”.

He claims he rang Mr Thomas, “who was very repentant and apologetic on the telephone”, for an explanation.

“By transmitting HIV to the claimant, the defendant has caused him serious physical and psychological injury,” papers said.

Mr Thomas is said to have “pleaded” with Mr Baum to keep his HIV status a secret and, after he agreed, the relationship continued.

Mr Thomas then used “coercive and controlling behaviour” to prevent his HIV status becoming public knowledge, Mr Baum claims.

The Duke of Sussex visits Twickenham
The Duke of Sussex (right) attends a Terrence Higgins Trust event with former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas (left) at the Stoop, Twickenham, ahead of National HIV Testing Week (PA)

“That information, had it become publicly known, would have been extremely damaging to the defendant’s public reputation as a person who had spoken out about his homosexuality and LGBTQ issues,” court documents said.

“Since that time, the defendant has portrayed himself as a spokesperson for HIV without ever disclosing that he deceptively transmitted HIV to the claimant in 2014.”

Mr Thomas made history in 2009 by becoming the world’s first openly gay rugby player.

His career includes 100 caps for Wales, representing the country in four Rugby World Cups, and becoming the British and Irish Lions captain.

He publicly revealed he was living with HIV in 2019 and sits on the HIV Commission, which aims to end new cases of the disease by 2030.

To raise awareness of the condition, he filmed a documentary with Prince Harry for the Terrence Higgins Trust and produced his own programme, Gareth Thomas: HIV And Me.

Rugby Union – RBS 6 Nations Championship 2007 – Wales v England – Millennium Stadium
Mr Thomas playing in a Six Nations match at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff during his career for Wales (PA)

Mr Baum said he felt “vulnerable and unsure about his future” after his diagnosis but was “very much in love with” Mr Thomas and devastated he had been “deceived”.

“The defendant had knowingly lied to the claimant about his HIV status and had coerced the claimant into having unprotected sexual intercourse when he knew that by doing so he was putting the claimant at risk of contracting HIV,” the papers alleged.

Mr Baum also accuses Mr Thomas of being unfaithful during their relationship, alleging that in 2015 he found out he was “seeking unknown men for unprotected sex at a well-known car park near to Junction 18 of the M4 motorway”.

Near the end of the relationship, in January 2016, it will be claimed Mr Baum wrote a note saying: “I lied – I already had HIV. Give this to your solicitor.”

Mr Baum’s legal team claim it is an example of their client’s “vulnerability” by that stage and he does not remember writing it.

They allege Mr Thomas was threatening to leave Mr Baum, claim an injunction against him or persuade him to sign a pre-nuptial agreement preventing him from disclosing his HIV status, and Mr Baum “accepts that he would have done anything to try to save the relationship”.