Jury in Richard Desmond libel action discharged

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The jury hearing the libel action brought by newspaper proprietor Richard Desmond against writer Tom Bower was discharged today.

Desmond, whose Northern and Shell company owns the Express Newspapers group, had sued over claims in Bower’s 2006 unauthorised biography of Conrad Black that he had abused his position and then been forced into a humiliating climbdown by Black.

His counsel, Ian Winter QC, had told Mr Justice Eady and the jury at London’s High Court that the allegations were thoroughly defamatory and wholly false.

Bower denies libel and says that what he wrote about Mr Desmond was substantially true and was not – in any event – defamatory.

Today, on the second day of the case, the judge told the jury that he had to discharge them as a result of fairly fundamental and important legal submissions in their absence.

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