Back Issues 16.12.05

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Court slashes Elton John’s libel award in milestone ruling
The Appeal Court had slashed Elton John’s £350,000 libel award against the Sunday Mirror in 1993 to just £75,000.

The
case was seen as the first step to ending the libel lottery whereby
juries came up with massive damages awards to well-known celebrities.
The media had argued that libel juries needed guidance as they were
awarding far higher sums than the courts were awarding for major
injuries to accident victims. Master of the Rolls Sir Thomas Bingham
said juries were “in the position of sheep loosed on an unfenced
common, with no shepherd”. The judges recommended libel jurors should
be advised of previous awards; the level of awards in personal injury
cases; and lawyers should be able to suggest the level of award they
believed was appropriate. The Sunday Mirror had claimed John was
suffering from a form of the slimmer’s disease, bulimia.

Northcliffe agency plans dashed
The
plans by Northcliffe to set up a rival national news agency to the
Press Association – called UK News – had foundered when Express
Newspapers and the Mirror Group backed out of a deal at the eleventh
hour. The Press Association’s sales director Clive Marshall gleefully
told Press Gazette: “We are delighted that there will be no break in
our relationship with Mirror Group and the Express”. UK News had
recruited an extra 58 journalists so that it could serve the nationals.
Hanging on to the two groups was vital for PA to maintain its position
as the only major news agency in the UK.

Dailies dance on Today’s grave
The
national dailies were going all out to grab some of the 582,226
circulation enjoyed by Today, which had folded in November. The Daily
Express was claiming its sales were up 100,000 and the Daily Mirror was
boasting a 150,000 boost. The Daily Mail reported its sales had broken
through the two million mark. Of the three, it was the Mail that
consolidated its sale and now averages more than 2.3 million.

The great escape
The
Daily Mail was also trying to take advantage of the upheaval at the
Express after Lord Stevens had poached Richard Addis from the Daily
Mail to be the new editor, replacing Nick Lloyd. Associated Newspapers
chairman Sir David English had written to Daily Express and Sunday
Express readers asking: “I wonder if you are really satisfied with the
standard of journalism in your newspaper? It has been cutting back on
its editorial staff, its editor has now resigned and there is real
uncertainty in the City about the Daily and Sunday Express.” Offering
cut-price copies of the Mail, Sir David added: “Join the great escape…
don’t get caught with false papers.” Express Newspapers md Andrew
Cameron (pictured) responded: “It sounds like true desperation. The
Mail fights with steel toecaps but we enjoy a scrap.”

Wadley becomes Mail’s joint no 3
Veronica
Wadley, former deputy editor of The Daily Telegraph, had become joint
number 3 at the Daily Mail, filling the gap left by Richard Addis (see
above). Wadley is now editor of the Evening Standard, London.

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