Richard Desmond versus Tom Bower: Which way will popularity contest go?

Richard Desmond versus Tom Bower is not failing to disappoint as yesterday’s hearing illustrated.

The court heard ample evidence of Desmond’s, erm, colourful management style when he confronted Jafar Omid last year of Pentagon Capital Management over a £50,000 investement made on behalf of his son that he was having trouble getting back.

Desmond said in a taped telephone conversation with Omid: “Let me tell you mate, let me tell you something, let me tell you something Jafar as good a fucking, as good as a friend I am, I am the worst fucking enemy you’ll ever have. Please get me a cheque round, thank you very much.”

Three days later the Sunday Express printed the story: “David Cameron’s friend and £1bn he won’t give back.”

Fast forward to February this year and the Sunday Express was in the High Court and had agreed to pay ‘substantial’ but undisclosed libel damages after falsely alleging that fund management executives had dishonestly kept £1bn of their clients’ money.

As the court heard yesterday, as part of February’s settlement it was revealed that Desmond accepted it was comments he made “in the presence of Sunday Express journalists”, that had prompted his paper to publish the libellous article.

Big libel cases involving juries often hinge on the relative likeability of the defendant versus the claimant. It will be fascinating to see which way the vote goes.

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