In its Christmas quiz, Private Eye reminds readers that in 2009 the pornographer and newspaper owner Richard Desmond sued the business journalist Tom Bower for saying in passing that he told his editors what they must in their papers. Desmond insisted that the very idea that he might use his tame journalists to reward his friends and punish his enemies was a libellous slur.
“Which of the following evidence,” asks the Eye, “did Mr Justice Eady rule was relevant to the case and could go before the jury?
a) The full text of a memo from a former editor complaining that he was forced to run ‘unjustified stories to settle scores’.
b) A tape of Desmond telling a businessman ‘I’m the worst fucking enemy you’ll ever have’ three days before a negative story was printed about him.
c) The fact that Desmond once punched a night editor for not running a story he wanted in the paper.”
As anyone who watches restriction on freedom of expression will have guessed, Eady ruled all of the above inadmissible. He refused to allow evidence of proprietorial interference to be heard in a case about proprietorial interference. Read the whole thing