While the rest of Fleet Street today reported on how Richard Desmond had lost his libel action against biographer Tom Bower, Desmond’s own publications had a different take on the case.
The lead article on page two of today’s Daily Star said Desmond was ‘proud to have set the record straight’and detailed the proprietor’s reasons for pursuing his legal action against Bower.
Only when you get to the last paragraph does the story reveal that Desmond was not actually defamed.
The piece doesn’t mention the word ‘lost”, nor does it carry any of Bower’s post match analysis about how he was the victim of “a very rich man trying to suppress the truth” and how the jury had done a “great service to British journalism”.
Desmond’s legal action came over claims by Bower in his 2006 biography of the disgraced former Daily Telegraph owner Conrad Black that he interfered in the editorial running of his newspapers.
In his other paper, the Daily Express, the headline on page six says: “I’m happy to put the record straight says Daily Express owner” however the fact that Desmond was “unsuccessful in establishing that he was libelled’does make it into the third paragraph.
Its worth noting that on the Express website Desmond’s statement: ‘DAILY EXPRESS OWNER: I SET RECORD STRAIGHT” has the comments section turned off. A search for “Desmond” on the Express website returns a link headlined: “Desmond Loses High Court Case” but clicking the link brings you to a page where it says: “The article you are looking for does not exist. It may have been deleted”.