in the back
Issue 1242
DESPITE having no influence whatever over what his newspapers print, the proprietor of the Daily Express and Daily Star, Richard “Dirty” Desmond, must have been delighted by their assiduous coverage of his recent libel battle with the author Tom Bower before Mr Justice Eady.

“Richard Desmond was last night proud to have ‘set the record straight’ in a high court battle over claims he abused his position,” the Star told its readers. The Express also skipped nimbly over the small embarrassment of Desmond’s humiliating defeat (and likely £1.25m costs bill), presenting the outcome as a veritable triumph for its owner.

Dirty Des must have been pretty pleased too with the coverage in the Daily Telegraph. Having previously ignored the trial altogether, on the day after the verdict it ran a report by Andrew Pierce (who hadn’t been in court once) which gave such disproportionate space to Desmond’s comments one might almost think he had won, or at least forced a draw. But then thirsty Telegraph supremo Will Lewis is an old friend and admirer of Dirty Des – and dined with him during the trial.

A ‘mutant smut and defamation company’
Desmond hasn’t always been on such openly friendly terms with the Telegraph of course. Back in 2003, for example, when its former proprietor Conrad Black was suing the Sunday Express for saying that his business was on the skids, Dirty Des countersued over Black’s remark, reported in the Telegraph, that the Express was “published by a mutant smut and defamation company, run by a pornographer and a couple of ex-convicts”.

Naturally Desmond couldn’t sue over the p-word, since he was and is a pornographer; but, as he told the jury during his recent libel action in the high court, he had been grievously offended by the “very damaging” suggestion that he would ever consort with convicts.

With friends like these…
So whom did Desmond call as witnesses to help furnish and burnish his reputation in the recent Bower case? Aside from two paid lackeys (his finance director and the current Sunday Express editor), there were three.

Dirty Des himself was the main attraction; then came financial hack Anil Bhoyrul, who in 2006 was sentenced to 180 hours of community service for conspiracy to breach the financial services act; and finally Lord Black of Crossharbour, whose evidence came in the form of an emailed statement because “he is overseas”, as the court document charmingly put it.

In short: a pornographer and a couple of convicts!

* Desmond decked and Eady rapped: To read the full court report of Desmond v. Bower, buy the latest issue of Private Eye – out now.

More top stories in the latest issue:

The man behind the Swansea tidal lagoon gives his wife’s company first call for getting money out of the project if it should ever hit financial difficulties.

The social care watchdog finds a litany of failure at an Essex-based care agency yet the county council is still paying the agency to look after the vulnerable.

National Archives and censors at the Advisory Council on National Records and Archives get special treatment for their snail-like response to FoI requests.

Staff at the Ridings Federation of Academies in south Gloucestershire received pay-offs totalling £350,000 without proper oversight or scrutiny, say auditors.

Failures by MCTnovo, which won a £982m private probation contract in London, are ‘leaving the public at undue risk’, say documents seen by the Eye.

Two key weapons systems show how subservient the UK is to US corporations and US intelligence – who can snoop on almost everything we do.

Is the British Army fit enough to fight an actual war? Its creation of a so-called ‘warfighting division’ seems more like a desk-based PR exercise.

To read more from issue 1242 you can order a copy from our archive of back issues here. For all the latest news you can subscribe here and have the magazine delivered to your home every fortnight.

Next issue on sale: 30th May 2017.
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Private Eye Issue 1444

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30th May 2017
In This Issue private eye
Private Eye Infected by Gnomeware… King Charles the Third Rate – A Sylvie Krin Special… ‘Too Close to Call’ – Election Sets Snoresbury Alight… Vote For Mrs Me, Says Prime Minister Theresa May and My Team… Captain Corbyn of Titanic to Stay on ‘Whatever Happens’… Me and My Spoon, with Diane Abbott… Ocean’s 11 Pints and Tight Club – Brad Pitt’s Films in Full… Trump Sacks Himself… Liz Jones on Princess Diana, as told to Craig Brown

And also...

- Election round-up: Tory housing hogwash, Corbyn left in the lurch & more!
- Slipping Standards: Editor Osborne and the BlackRock effect
- PR battle: Is the British Army still fit to fight an actual war?

For all these stories you can buy the magazine or subscribe here and get delivery direct to your home every fortnight.

Private Eye Issue 1443