WPP boss Martin Sorrell has dropped a libel action against two employees he claimed had used an anonymous blog to slur his character, instead opting to settle for £120,000.

Marco Benatti and Marco Tinelli, heads of a WPP Italian subsidiary, were alleged to have likened Sorrell to a Godfather-type mafia boss and published “grossly offensive” images of the advertising chief and an ex-lover.

Sorrell had described the blog as “vindictive” and “vengeful” after learning it had cast him as a “Don Martino” figure, linked to “fraud, deception and money-laundering” last March 20.

Under pressure, the blog was closed down three days later, but copycat journals and emails soon appeared, criticising Sorrell’s hands-on management style. Sorrell was due to present a paper trail he claimed would link the pair to the claims.

But, ten days into a defamation hearing at London’s High Court, the plug was pulled on the action after both sides agreed a settlement in which Benatti and Tinelli accept no wrongdoing.

In a statement, they said they were not responsible for the blog but agreed the accusations it contained were false.