The 'jab' that cost Desmond six figures

By Dominic Ponsford and Caitlin Pike

A potentially sensational employment tribunal was avoided at the
eleventh hour after Express Newspapers paid a six-figure sum to the
journalist who said boss Richard Desmond jabbed him in the stomach.

Former Daily Express executive editor Ted Young (above right)
subpoenaed the paper’s editor Peter Hill and deputy editor Hugh Whittow
as well as Sunday Express editor Martin Townsend to testify at the
two-day hearing. But the case, which arose from an alleged assault on
Young by Desmond, was settled on Wednesday – the day before the hearing
was due to start.

Young’s lawyer Jonathan Savitt, from Lawrence
and Co, said: “Any employment lawyer will tell you that perhaps the
most serious wrongdoing an employer can do to an employee is to whack

The incident dates back to the evening of Thursday, 2
September, 2004, when Desmond was making one of his regular tours of
the Express newsroom. The Beslan school siege was unfolding at the time
and Desmond allegedly publicly remonstrated with Young because an
obituary of ’60s pop singer Carl Wayne, from The Move, had appeared in
the Daily Mail but not the Daily Express.

Savitt said: “Mr
Desmond expressed his annoyance with Mr Young by jabbing him in the
stomach. Mr Young felt unable to continue his employment at the
Express, resigned and brought a complaint for constructive dismissal.
Quite apart from the traumatic effect this has had on him and his
family he remained unemployed and without a job from September to
February this year.”

Mark Stephens, who advised Northern and
Shell to settle the case, said: “My advice was that it should enter a
commercial settlement.

Its main business is publishing newspapers
and you don’t really want your main executives distracted at a two-day
hearing by something which is a diversion from the main event. There
was no admission that the alleged event even took place and no
admission of liability.”

Young, 43, was poached by Desmond to
join the Express as executive editor in May 2002. Before that he was
night editor on The Sun, a backbench sub-editor on the Daily Mail and
deputy night editor on Today.

In February he took over from Martin Clarke as editor of the Evening Standard’s free lunchtime Lite edition.

According to one insider he was on good terms with Desmond before last year’s incident.

year after Young joined the Express, Desmond presented him with a
guitar to give to his 13-year-old son. According to a friend: “Ted is a
man of huge integrity who is very passionate about his job which is why
he was so affronted by what happened to him.”

An Express newsroom
insider said: “Desmond is fairly uncompromising and he expects quite
unswerving devotion from the people around him. He’s quite a ruthless
operator and people are pretty naïve if they don’t see that when they
are dealing with him – even if he openly seems to quite like you.”

Press Gazette has been told that complaints have been made against a
senior executive at The Sun in Scotland, accusing him of bullying and
verbal abuse of staff, have been made to NI Staff Association reps.

Express’s controversial owner
● Apparently prompted by references in the
Daily Mail to Desmond’s previous ownership
of pornographic magazines, attacks on
the Rothermere family, a nd references to the
Mail’s 1930s support for fascism, have periodically
appeared in the Express under the
fictional byline Brendan Abbot.
● In April, 2004, Desmond reportedly
asked Daily Telegraph executives if they
were looking forward to being owned by
the Nazis before goose-stepping around
the office calling them “fucking wankers”,
“fucking c***s” and singing Deutschland
über alles. Telegraph chief executive Jeremy
Deedes walked out in disgust.

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