Thursday 10 December 2009

Last libel laugh for Richard Desmond?

When Tom Bower emerged victorious after Richard Desmond's failed libel action against him in July we were promised that his long awaited biography of the Express Newspapers' boss would soon be on the shelves.
Bower described the biography, as "the most devastating story of a businessman I have ever written" - and said it was likely to be in the shops before Christmas.
Today, however, Hugh Muir reveals in the Guardian Diary: "Bower is encountering real difficulty in having Rogue Trader – his book on Desmond himself, published. Usually HarperCollins stands firm in the heat of battle, but in this case the publisher appears to be having second thoughts.
"Problem one is that most newspapers are reluctant to cross Dirty Des, and this would probably starve the book of the publicity necessary to make it successful. Problem two is that the publishing business is in the doldrums. But problem three is the fear that Desmond will sue again on some other basis, incurring massive legal fees – irrespective of whether it goes to court – and swelling the amount HarperC pays in insurance."
Speaking to the Guardian after celebrating his victory in the libel case, Bower said he believed Desmond had brought the action in the hope of suppressing his biography.
What a shame if fear of our libel laws means that Desmond has the last laugh over Bower. Yet another reason for libel law reform.

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