Publisher Hachette Filipacchi UK and its chairman, Kevin Hand, today accepted “substantial’but undisclosed libel damages and a public apology at London’s High Court to settle a libel action against Media Week.
Mr Justice Eady was told by Christopher Hutchings, solicitor for Hachette, whose titles include Elle, Red, Psychologies and Sugar, that the issue of Media Week for 3 to 10 of April carried a piece headed ‘Hachette faces an uncertain future.”
Hutchings said that the article was an analysis of Hachette’s future prospects and it was implied that the company faced being scrapped by its parent company LagardÃ¨re, with its magazine publishing business in the UK being replaced by licensing agreements.
He continued: ‘It also may have been understood to suggest that it was in a poor financial position and that this was reflected in a string of senior executives leaving the it and not being replaced.
‘The article went on to lay the blame for this predicament at the feet of its chairman, Kevin Hand. As well as containing a number of inaccuracies concerning both claimants, the article did not include information which was communicated to the defendant in an interview with Mr Hand.”
He said that Haymarket Publishing, who publish Media Week, now accepted that the allegations were untrue, withdrew them and apologised.
‘In fact, under the chairmanship of Kevin Hand, Hachette’s core titles, including Red and Psychologies, have steadily increased in circulation. Hachette is also undergoing a significant expansion into digital publishing demonstrated by the acquisition of the popular website Digital Spy earlier this year,’said Hutchings.
‘Hachette has seen one of its most profitable years in 2007 despite difficult market conditions and is continuing to look at further expansion opportunities, both in digital and on paper.’
Solicitor for Haymarket, Joanna Workman, told the judge : ‘The defendant wishes to make it clear that it did not intend that its analysis should be understood to make these untrue allegations about Hachette, or the second claimant, Kevin Hand.
‘Further, it did not intend to suggest, as may have been understood, that the first claimant was at risk of being closed by its parent company or being forced to scale down its operation, or that the second claimant was responsible for this position.
‘Through me, the defendant withdraws these allegations and sincerely apologises to the claimants for the damage caused and to Kevin Hand for the resulting distress and embarrassment. The defendant has agreed to publish an apology, and to pay to the claimants substantial damages and their legal costs.”