street of shame

Melania, the Mail and a legal riddle
MailOnline, Issue 1438

FIRST LADY: Melania Trump, whose lawyer has filed a $150m suit against Mail Media Inc in New York
IN JUNE last year, upholding a complaint brought against MailOnline by Scientology boss David Miscavige, press regulator Ipso revealed that the website had refused to defend its story or to cooperate with the investigation in any way.

The Mail’s argument was that a December 2015 article about the “bromance” of Miscavige and Tom Cruise fell outside Ipso’s jurisdiction, since most people mentioned in it were American, the events took place in America “and the piece was commissioned, written and edited by journalists working for its US division. The story had therefore been written to comply with American law and journalistic conventions, not the British Editors’ Code of Practice”. That argument was turned on its head, however, when Lord Rothermere’s American operation Mail Media Inc (MMI) made a successful application last month to have an American lawsuit dismissed.

Legal paradox
Melania Trump had sued MMI in Montgomery County, Maryland, over an article about her sexual past published by MailOnline in August 2016. Circuit judge Sharon Burrell accepted MMI’s contention that filing the case in Maryland, which has no obvious connection to either Mrs Trump or the Mail, did not satisfy “strict constitutional requirements of due process, which limit a court’s ability to exercise jurisdiction over foreign residents”.

As the judge observed, although Mrs T had claimed that US-based MMI was effectively the publisher of the MailOnline story, “defendant MMI asserts that MailOnline is owned and published by Associated Newspapers Ltd, a United Kingdom-based company.” Clear? The Mail’s London HQ isn’t responsible for online stories emanating from the American office – unless you challenge them in the US, whereupon the Mail will insist that London is indeed responsible after all.

American judges will soon have a further chance to explore this legal paradox. Undaunted by her rebuff in Maryland, on 6 February the First Lady filed a $150m suit against MMI in New York, where she lives. According to her attack-dog attorney, Charles Harder, the Mail’s allegations harmed her “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to cash in on the Trump presidency by selling Melania-branded “apparel, accessories, shoes, jewellery, cosmetics, hair care, skin care, and fragrance”. No need for the Mail to trash her reputation: her lawyer seems quite capable of doing it all by himself.

More top stories in the latest issue:

How the Sun failed to follow up a red-hot tip about Chris Steele, the ex-MI6 man, incognito since the leaking of his Trump Moscow ‘dossier’.

Why the Sun got so angry with ‘Scrumbag’ Danny Cipriani, England rugby player – and an ex-Sun columnist.

The Times’s Matthew Syed leaps to the defence of David Beckham – but fails to reveal he once earnt five-figures helping Goldenballs write his life story.

The Stage newspaper launches a formal complaint about the way showbiz ‘exclusives’ are spoon-fed to the Mail’s notorious Baz Bamigboye.

How hiring Isabel Oakeshott as a ‘political editor at large’ has cost Paul Dacre a small fortune… and yielded just 15 extremely expensive political stories.

The Daily Express (still ‘the world’s greatest newspaper’, remember!) is forced to run two front-page plugs for grovelling apologies in four days.

After four political editors in seven years, the once-mighty Telegraph looks set to hand the poisoned chalice to a hack with no direct political experience.

When the Sun exposed an NHS nurse who once worked in the porn industry, readers react by telling the rag to grow up and get a life.

To read all these stories in full, get the latest edition of Private Eye - you can subscribe here and have the magazine delivered to your home every fortnight.

Next issue on sale: 7th March 2017.
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7th March 2017
In This Issue private eye
Outcry as Judge Rules Owl and Pussycat ‘Cannot Divorce’… ‘I Was There at Nuttall Tragedy’ Claim Hundreds of Journalists… ‘Jump’ Viewers Disappointed as Wiggins Suffers Only Minor Injury… Trump Welcomes Live BBC Reports of SS-UK’s Rise to Power… Brexit Boom Continues As May Closes Britain’s Shops and House Prices Fall… Time to Ban the Bercow – Telegraph Exclusive… Piers Morgan’s Diary, as told to Craig Brown

And also...

- Espionage Act: New law could turn hacks and sources into criminals
- Loan arrangers: Selling off student loans is only good news for bankers
- Phone a fiend: The foreign despot agitating back home from a UK prison

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Private Eye Issue 1437