Richard Desmond libel trial stopped

Trial of claim against Conrad Black biographer to restart on Monday

The trial of the libel action brought by Express Newspapers owner Richard Desmond against writer Tom Bower over a paragraph of his biography of Conrad Black was stopped today by Mr Justice Eady on its second day, after the Judge heard legal submissions in the jury’s absence.

Mr Desmond had sued Mr Bower over words published in Mr Bower’s 2006 biography of Conrad Black, Conrad & Lady Black: Dancing on the Edge, that he contends mean that he had personally ordered damaging stories to be run about Black regardless of their truth, only to accept a “humiliating” settlement when Black sued him for libel.  Bower denies that the words bear this meaning, or that they defame Desmond at all, and contends that they are true.

A new trial with a fresh jury will start next week.

5RB‘s David Sherborne (instructed by Schillings) is junior counsel for Mr Desmond, while Alexandra Marzec (instructed by Wiggin) is junior counsel for Mr Bower. Adrienne Page QC also acted for Mr Bower during earlier stages of proceedings.