Weber a 'Difficult Personality', Witness Tells Sorrell Libel Trial

26 March 2007

LONDON: The gothic mausoleum that epitomizes British law was again the setting for succulent scuttlebutt on Friday, as Mr Justice Eady and a packed courtroom got acquainted with the latest episode in adland's best-selling libel soap.

Top billing in the show that day was accorded to the alleged affair between WPP Group ceo Sir Martin Sorrell and Daniela Weber, chief operating officer at WPP Italia.

On the witness stand was former WPP-I manager Monica Mormina. She was asked by Desmond Browne QC, the barrister acting for Sorrell and Weber, whether she disliked the latter?

"She has a difficult personality," responded Mormina. "Anyone who has worked with her knows that. I don't like people who don't behave correctly."

Lawyer Browne, eager to earn the extra guinea conferred by his QC suffix, persisted. Was Mormina's view that Weber exploited her relationship with Sir Martin shared by others at WPP Italy?

"It was a perception shared by people in our group," she replied. "The people I talked with shared it with me."

She continued: "After two maternity leaves, when I went back to work in 2005, my perception was that Mr Benatti was not able to handle or manage Ms Weber any more."

Were Ms Mormina and her boss Marco Benatti hostile to WPP, Browne demanded to know?

"Who would not be?", she replied enigmatically. As to Sir Martin, whom she did not know personally, Mormina said she harboured no personal hostility.

Despite which, she confirmed to the court that she was pursuing a wrongful dismissal claim against WPP in the Milan labour court.

Under continuing cross-examination, Mormina ventured the view that Sorrell and Weber had not "taken steps" to keep their relationship private. "It was generally known that they met publicly and holidayed together," she said.

"I recall Daniela Weber took no steps to create the impression that she was holidaying elsewhere. My judgment was that she felt her position in the office was strengthened by her relationship with Martin Sorrell."

[Tomorrow: Sorrell and Weber share an joke on the North face of the Eiger.]

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff