Cole's lawyers question Google over gay connection

Google has been asked to disclose why the word 'gay' is being linked to Premiership footballer Ashley Cole when his name is typed into the Internet search engine.

The footballer is currently suing the News of the World and The Sun about a story about alleged gay Premiership footballers, which has prompted many internet sites to speculate he is the person in the article.

The newspapers did not mention Cole's name specifically in any of the stories. However, they printed a doctored picture, which has since been revealed to be of Cole and a Choice FM DJ.

The Arsenal and England defender's lawyers want the website to explain why typing his name into the search engine brings back a result, which says "see results for: Ashley Cole gay".

Graham Shear, Cole's solicitor, said: "I am keen to find out whether the decision to automatically include the term 'gay' to the keyword 'Ashley Cole' was an editorial decision or one made by the computer on the volume of searches for 'Ashley Cole' linked to the word 'gay'."

Most of the links that come up are news stories reporting on The Sun and News of the World's legal case and so mention the search terms "gay" and "Cole".

Shear has not yet had a response from Google and says he will consider his course of action if the company refuses to answer his query.

A spokesperson for Google said that the decision to suggest alternative search terms was made by computer, but an official statement has not yet been released.

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