Brit Press Barons to Slug it Out In Court Over Alleged Libel

18 November 2002

The unedifying (if entertaining) slanging match between UK press barons Lord Conrad Black, owner of the Telegraph Group, and Richard Desmond, boss of Express Newspapers, looks set to come to a head in London’s High Court.

On Friday The Telegraph reported that Black is to sue Express Newspapers over two articles appearing in the Sunday Express earlier this month. He will seek substantial damages and an injunction

Puffed the piqued peer: “Virtually every word in these scurrilous articles is not simply wrong, but the reverse of the truth.” Both his Lordship and his companies had been grossly libelled, it is claimed.

The offending Sunday Express article on November 3 alleged that Black’s holding company Hollinger International was “facing its biggest crisis ever” after a “credit facility was cancelled by [its] bankers”, TD Securities.

The piece also referred to “loan notes” and went on to make “the most basic of errors” by describing Hollinger as a “a recipient, not the issuer, of these notes. The notes represent a group asset, not a group liability,” huff the counsellors.

The article allegedly “outraged” the noble Lord as no attempt had been made by Sunday Express or its journos to verify the accuracy of the article either with Black, The Telegraph, or Hollinger.

The truth of the matter, insist the legal eagles, is that TD did not withdraw from the financing, but wanted to remain a member of a syndicate which proposed better terms than Hollinger's existing facilities.

There has been bad blood between the two tycoons since Desmond, whose feculent top shelf publishing activities (Big Ones, Asian Babes, Readers’ Wives, etc) have been slammed by Black’s newspapers, gained control of Express Newspapers last year.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff