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Dirty dealings stranger than fiction
Richard Desmond, Issue 1395
richard desmond.jpg
AMONG the few certified accuracies in The Real Deal, Richard Desmond’s eagerly awaited autobiography (Random House, £20), are his name, his date of birth and his favourite food. Most of the rest is fantasy and distortions. Or “folklore” as Desmond claimed, rebutting a TV interview with Benjamyn Damazer who complained that every Monday at school Damazer was threatened by Desmond – “pinning me up against the wall with my legs dangling in the air” – and forced to hand over one shilling.

Violence played a big part in Desmond’s early life, laying the foundations of a fortune built on advertising, magazines, pornography and TV which led to becoming Ukip’s major sponsor.

Understandably, Desmond has not admitted to his frequent brutal verbal violence directed against his staff and enemies. He also denies personally hitting anyone, which will surprise Ted Young, the 5ft 5ins head of production. Young was hit by Desmond on 2 September 2004, accompanied by the immortal question: "Why the fuck haven’t you got Carl Wayne in the paper?” Wayne was a singer in the 1960s. Fearing more violent attacks from Desmond, Young fled home and eventually received substantial damages.

Assaulted by the mafia
Desmond does however write that Paul Raymond – the porn king who claimed Desmond stole his staff and ideas to create his own porn empire – is accused of involvement in burning someone to death; and he accuses the Australian billionaire Kerry Packer of threatening him: "I will slit your throat from ear to ear.” Conveniently, both are dead.

Not dead is Philip Bailey, formerly Desmond’s trusted managing director (demoted to a minnow in his book), who was violently assaulted in 1992 by the mafia in New York. The terror was a warning to Desmond to repay £1m or suffer the same treatment in punishment for a double cross. Yet Desmond coyly writes: "I do not know exactly what happened to Bailey”; and pleads legal helplessness when the Sunday Times “implied” that he had a relationship with the mafia. He omits to mention that when asked by the Sunday Times to provide a sworn statement that he had no relationship with the Gambino family, the newspaper received no reply.

As Desmond writes: "I was beginning to realise that crime doesn’t really pay” – but not quite. With the help of Joe Salama and Lee Bowden on his advertising sales team, Desmond had persuaded Norman Chanes and Richard “Ricky” Martino of John Gotti’s crime family to buy advertisements for premium-rate sex chatlines in his porn magazines during their visit to his Docklands office. Naively, the mafia men did not spot the vastly inflated circulation figures provided by Martin Ellice, Desmond’s honcho.

After no calls were received, the mafia wanted their money back. Desmond refused and half-murdering Bailey was the Mafia’s warning. Desmond admits he hired bodyguards to protect himself but omits to mention that James Brown, his personal bodyguard and a convicted thug, was given £2m in £20 notes packed into five Nike bags to be given to Martino’s emissary at a Soho restaurant.

Ever since, Desmond has pleaded innocence about his commercial relationship with the mafia. To his misfortune, in 2005 Chanes and Martino pleaded guilty in New York to a range of crimes including assaulting Bailey. In Bailey’s testimony at the trial and the mafia men’s courtroom confessions, all three described Desmond’s commercial relationship with the mafia.

Stiffing business partners
Another set of court records also sharply contradicts Desmond’s fruity description of his relationship with Bob Guccione after he obtained the licence to produce Penthouse in Britain. In Desmond’s version “there was the matter of ‘specials’ for which they (Penthouse) suddenly started billing us extra royalties”. Guccione’s writ, supported by more than 20 detailed affidavits signed by Penthouse staff and Desmond’s former employees, alleged that Desmond had defrauded Guccione by printing extra magazines and specials without permission or payment. He settled by paying £1m.

Stiffing business partners became a habit for Desmond from the outset of his rags-to-riches story. First to fall was Sean O’Mahoney, his first serious employer. Desmond admits to a hostile relationship but omits O’Mahoney’s description in an affidavit that his advertising office was stripped empty by Desmond, Malcolm Green and another former employee to build a rival business. With remarkable candour Malcolm Green subsequently admitted to Tom Bower, the writer: "The three of us conspired to steal the business. It was subterfuge.” Like so many of Desmond’s partners, Green later accused Desmond of double-crossing him. Behind his sentence “Malcolm may have asked if we should have a contract” is the ballistic end of a relationship repeated with countless others throughout Desmond’s life – and forgotten in his book.

In that vein, he fails to objectively present his relationship in 1992 with Lord Stevens, then chairman of United Newspapers, owner of Express Newspapers. Accurately, Desmond describes how United signed an outrageously tilted contract which committed United to buy an unlimited number of magazines printed and supplied by Desmond. As the seventeenth truck filled with Desmond’s worthless magazines arrived at United’s warehouse, Stevens realised his company was hurtling towards bankruptcy. “Desmond completely shafted us,” Stevens told Tom Bower at his Chelsea home in 2005. To terminate the contract, United paid Desmond £21m.

Physically threatened
Strangely, soon after Desmond signed a near identical contract to supply magazines to a chain of garages owned by David Elias. His magazines, Desmond admits, were “filling warehouses” and didn’t sell. Elias, physically threatened by James Brown, by then promoted to Desmond’s commercial director, was pushed by Desmond into bankruptcy. The forensic accountancy examination of “The Garage Project” conducted by Price Waterhouse for the subsequent litigation suggested a conspiracy. As James Brown himself later admitted in an affidavit to support Elias against Desmond, “we set out to steal”. Like so many of Desmond’s partners and employees, Brown had become a victim of Desmond’s litigation. And like so many, Brown would now laugh at Desmond’s assertion in his book: "I am not litigious.”

Desmond’s last litigation against writer Tom Bower cost him £4.5m. Desmond describes his unsuccessful two-week libel trial as a “not an unqualified success”. Inevitably, he omits a key issue. He claimed to have been defamed by the statement that as the owner of Express Newspapers he influenced the paper’s content to “prevail against my enemies” – namely Conrad Black.

‘Fantasy fiction’
In describing how the jury heard a tape recording of him intimidating a fund manager to return some money, Desmond omitted that he threatened to publish in the Express a damaging profile of the fund manager if the money was not repaid. Two days later, the double-page damnation appeared in the Sunday Express. Yet Desmond had told the jury, after swearing on the Old Testament to tell the truth, that he had never influenced the contents of his newspapers.

His boasts in his own book of turning the Express group in favour of Ukip shows that he does indeed exert editorial control and that he escaped prosecution for perjury.

This book should be filed under “fantasy fiction”.

Columnists
Issue 1395
agri brigade
With Bio-Waste Spreader: "The NFU continues to fuss loudly about conservation measures being introduced this year as part of reforms to the common agricultural policy. But with growing signs that farmers aren’t concerned or out of pocket due to these bio-diversity initiatives, shouldn’t the union now put up or shut up? At Cereals 2015, a two-day event earlier this month held in a big field near Boothby Graffoe in Lincolnshire, the requirement for arable farmers to grow at least three crops and dedicate 5 percent of their farms to ‘ecological focus areas’ hardly warranted a mention at the various farmer forums and Q&As…”
medicine balls
With M.D.: "When will the Care Quality Commission and General Medical Council properly investigate allegations of unethical, unnecessary and potential harmful reflux surgery on neuro-disabled children at Alder Hey hospital? When the Eye broke the story of the Bristol heart scandal in 1992, it took seven years for the GMC to pass judgement and nine years for a public inquiry to report. For three years the Eye has been investigating why surgeon Matthew Jones has been performing an outdated procedure that involves cutting the vagus nerves and performing a pyloroplasty (Eyes passim ad nauseam)…”
signal failures
With Dr B Ching: "A tussle over the privately-owned rail station at Southend airport should be a warning to Tories and mandarins who’d like Network Rail to be privatised or split up, or both. Airport owner Stobart Group opened the station (beside NR-owned tracks) in 2011, after rail regulators and the Department for Transport agreed it could keep most of the station’s fares revenue to recover building costs. DafT now moans that the station has been more successful than expected, and it wants more revenue to go to its franchisee, Abellio Greater Anglia (AGA), owned by the Dutch government. This isn’t the first time the Tories… have objected to private firms profiting on the railways...”
eye tv
With Remote Controller: "A few years back, in the BBC’s Tribes, ex-military action man Bruce Parry challenged himself to try pre-modern ways of living by camping out with remote communities, eating their food and ingesting their hallucinogenic potions. Attracting an audience beyond the internationalists and backpackers who used to watch ITV’s Disappearing World and subscribe to National Geographic magazine, Parry ensured that all future how-others-live shows would become, in effect: I’m an Amateur Anthropologist, Get Me Into There! So, in one of the two current series about tribal customs, Kate Humble - Living with Nomads, the former Springwatch presenter is challenged to live with three nomadic tribes – in Nepal, Siberia and Mongolia. Offering the now ritual libation to the gods of reality TV, she was shown in Mongolia bravely chewing her way through a stew made from the reproductive sacs of the tribe’s male animals. Between eating bollocks, Kate also talks it.…
[review of Kate Humble - Living with Nomads (BBC2) and The Tribe (Channel 4)…]
keeping the lights on
With Old Sparky: "Early signs of how new energy secretary Amber Rudd intends to achieve her ambitions of ‘keeping the lights on, carbon emissions down, and saving money on energy bills’ (Eye 1393) come from her first big decision: a preliminary green light for the Swansea Bay ‘tidal lagoon’ electricity project. To pay for this, we are being softened up for levels of subsidy which would make a nuclear power plant blush…”
nooks and corners
With Piloti: "Another good reason to oppose the wretched Garden Bridge being foisted on London by Joanna Lumley and Boris Johnson is that it is now backed by Milord Rogers of Riverside. Marshalling his customary vapid clichés, the aged but bronzed ‘starchitect’ writes that it will be ‘a jewel of public space, a vital new connection, and an oasis in the heart of the city’…”
music and musicians
With Lunchtime O’Boulez: "The near-certainty with which so many people seem to think London is to get a new concert hall is bizarre given that it was just an idea floated by Simon Rattle when negotiating his future job with the London Symphony Orchestra, and taken up by a couple of politicians during the election…”
in the city
With Slicker: "In a surprise decision – because of past resistance from both regulators and banks, recorded only two months ago in Eye 1391 – the Bank of England’s Fair and Effective Markets Review, published earlier this month, came down in favour of time-stamping foreign exchange transactions. ‘The absence of time stamps provides potential opportunities for abusive practice’, it announced…”
Letter from Ziguinchor
From Our Own Correspondent: "
Irked by falling tourist numbers and accusations of burgeoning bureaucracy, our government in Dakar recently dropped its short-lived experiment with biometric visas. Senegal is the country of teranga — spontaneous hospitality. A passport entry stamp should be enough for those who want to sample what is best in this self-anointed model democracy. You may shudder at the venality and vanity projects of our politicians, and wince at the urban squalor and rural poverty that lead so many to migrate. But look at our neighbours before you cast judgement…”
To read all these columnists and more in full, you can buy the latest edition of Private Eye - or subscribe here and have the magazine delivered to your home every fortnight.

Next issue on sale:
7th July 2015.
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Next issue on sale: 7th July 2015.

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