David Beckham last night vowed to fight against a decision to throw out his £15.5m libel claim against a US magazine that accused him of seeing a prostitute.

Beckham’s lawyers were astonished that a judge ruled that the downmarket Bauer tabloid In Touch did not act out of malice and that vice girl, Irma Nici had a right to free speech, even if she lied about romping with the former England captain.

A spokesman for Beckham said: “Bauer do not dispute for purposes of this motion that their story is false.

“They have not provided one shred of evidence to support the claim this story is true. Beckham’s clear evidence proved that this is without foundation.

“We have already won a court ruling in Germany and are awaiting damages. Unfortunately, the US legal system requires us to show that the magazine acted maliciously. Any knowledgeable person knows this story not to be true, we will continue to fight this in court and the decision will be appealed.”

The lawyer for Nici, 26, Paul Jensen, cited plans to counter-sue Beckham, 35, for “harassing” her.

Nici’s lawyer Mr Jensen said: ‘We have sued Beckham for personal injuries inflicted on her for when his people hounded down to serve a writ.”

The LA Galaxy footballer brought a US lawsuit against In Touch after it published an article last year claiming he paid Nici and a mystery brunette £1,800 for sex at New York’s Le Parker – Meridien Hotel in August 2007.

The prostitute claimed she had sex with the midfielder at a New York hotel in 2007. Beckham was able to prove he was staying in another hotel.

But under American law, his lawyers had to prove the magazine had acted “with malice”.

His lawyers failed to do so and the court also upheld Nici’s “right to free speech”.

The ­footballer had hoped to disprove her story and win punitive damages. But Judge Manuel Raul, sitting in Los Angeles federal court, cited previous failed cases and ruled that the action could not go ahead.

He argued there was a public interest in Beckham’s personal life and Nici was constitutionally entitled to say whatever she wanted.

The judge granted Beckham major inaccuracies in the story, but determined that the ­magazine’s failure to properly check out the facts “doesn’t establish malice”. He added: “The statement in the article concerned a person in the public eye.

“The plaintiff is a world-renowned soccer star who puts himself in the public spotlight.”

The judge also said there was no evidence that Bauer “avoided the truth”.

Richard Kendall, Beckham’s lawyer described the story and the magazine’s sloppiness as “mockery”.

He said: “They did not stop, did not look, did not listen before crossing the line from ­insinuation to outright falsehood.”