Judge Rules Against Desmond in London Newspaper War

12 June 2003

Richard Desmond must find a different name for his new London newspaper after a judge ruled he could not call it the Evening Mail.

Desmond, owner of Express Newspapers, is keen to break the stranglehold on the capital enjoyed by arch rival Associated Newspapers, owner of the city’s morning freesheet Metro and the paid-for Evening Standard.

The Express boss’s decision to name his new title the Evening Mail was seen in some circles as a deliberate ploy to wind up Associated, whose stable includes national titles the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday.

Cue legal action from Associated, which sought an injunction preventing Desmond’s use of the term ‘Mail’ [WAMN: 25-Feb-03].

A high court judge on Wednesday sided with Associated, ruling that the claimant could suffer loss of readers or advertisers if Desmond’s title expresses strident political views or displays ads for “adult chat-lines and massage parlours”. The latter are accepted by Express papers – whose Desmond-owned stablemates include such eminent titles as Big Ones and Asian Babes – but not by their Associated rivals.

The judge recognised that several regional newspapers already use the term ‘Mail’, but pointed out that Desmond’s title would be launched in the south-east, which accounts for 40% of the Daily Mail’s sales.

Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff