Siobhain Butterworth

06.11.03

Midnight. I’ve just faxed my witness statement to Michael Fawcett’s lawyers. We are midway through a hearing to discharge an order made by Mr Justice Henriques, against The Guardian, preventing us from saying that it was Fawcett who injuncted The Mail on Sunday.

Back at work at 8am preparing for court. Mid-morning our QC calls.

Fawcett’s lawyers are talking about settling. They want a meeting. The lawyers on the other side are friendly and the discussions are very civilised.

We win. It’s a great victory for the paper. Fawcett agrees to the injunction being discharged and withdraws his claim against us. Back in court at 2.15pm to tell the judge. The Media Guardian website is first with the story – seconds later there is a news flash on Sky. After celebratory tea and cake it’s back to the office to legal our Fawcett copy. Amazingly, I get away by six.

I’m enjoying a glass of wine in front of the Ten O’Clock News when Michael Peat, a royal courtier, reveals Prince Charles as the senior member of the Royal Family at the centre of the allegations.

It’s staggering – he has just put the penultimate piece of the jigsaw in place. Peat’s statement means major changes to The Guardian’s front pages – I’m working on and off until 1am with the night editor.

07.11.03

In the office by 9am. I review the press coverage of the Peat statement.

The general view is that it was a major PR blunder. The work has been piling up during the week while I have been tied up with the injunction. The post is about a foot high but I still spend most of the day talking to our journalists writing the royal story.

As head of the legal department I also have responsibility for commercial matters and I have, inevitably, neglected my managerial duties this week. I have a brief meeting with the lawyer who heads up commercial matters, to catch up on the progress of some urgent work. I’ve stupidly agreed to write a column for Media Guardian, but don’t get a chance to start on this before 7.30pm. The deadline was 6pm.

The media editor could not be nicer about my tardiness.

I arrive home, exhausted, at 10pm. Watch a programme about the artist formerly known as Prince. There is a pleasing symmetry to this.

08.11.03

Saturday. Several phone calls with the duty lawyer about the royal story. Everyone is waiting to see what The MoS is going to do tomorrow.

09.11.03

Sunday morning. I nip out early to buy all the papers. Acres of coverage, but no one is saying much. The MoS’s world exclusive looks a bit threadbare and doesn’t quite live up to its promise.

Later, I speak to our duty lawyer about a cartoon The Guardian may publish tomorrow about Prince Charles. It’s very puerile and very funny.

Monday’s Guardian: ‘major changes’

10.11.03

Ten o’clock. One of our journalists is being threatened with prosecution for criminal libel in the French courts and our French lawyers need urgent instructions. There’s another interesting development in the Fawcett case.

Mr Justice Henriques has written to Channel 4 News defending his reasons for granting an injunction against The Guardian – from a mobile phone while sitting in the back of the car.

Such transparency is encouraging for relations between the press and the judiciary. In the evening there is the first chance to unwind in four days at The Observer party at the Saatchi Gallery. The room is buzzing with gossip, not all of it about the royals.

11.11.03

I am working from home and by 9.30am I have completed our nomination for human rights lawyer of the year and have e-mailed it to human rights organisation Justice. Alan Rusbridger is nominating Beatrice Mtetwa, who represented Guardian journalist Andrew Meldrum when he ran into trouble with the Zimababwean authorities culminating in his deportation. Mtetwa was assaulted by the police and needed hospital treatment.

If anyone deserves an award it is Mtetwa.

I have a dental appointment and, since I barely saw my children last week, it seems like a good idea to take home some long outstanding work.

My plans for a peaceful supper are thwarted. It’s 7pm and Martin Cruddace, a partner at Schillings, calls.

He is threatening to injunct The Guardian. He is acting for former Sun editor Stuart Higgins. Today, under cover of parliamentary privilege, Clive Soley made a speech about News International’s settlement of a sexual harassment claim against Higgins when he was the editor of The Sun.

Cruddace suspects that we are going to publish more. I am a little terse. I haven’t even got supper ready for my kids yet. Cruddace tells me that he has had to collect his partner’s son from school as the au pair is sick. As there appears to be a draw on the domestic front, we move on to legal issues.

We have a bit of a shout at each other – a legal argument if you like. While I am caught up in calls with the newsdesk and Higgins’s lawyer, my children are having their own fight, with the result that I have to break off an otherwise fairly professional conversation to screech at them to “Shut up!” In the end the matter is resolved without the need to involve another duty judge. It’s getting on for nine now and still no supper. We order a pizza and line up on the sofa, like the The Simpsons, to watch Celebrity Wife Swap. Beer me.

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