LONDON: In adland's most delectable farce since the Wal-Mart/Julie Roehm affair, the libel trial launched by WPP Group's Sir Martin Sorrell on Wednesday frolicked into its second act.
Picking-up the comedy ball, Andrew Caldecott QC, counsel for co-defendants Marco Benatti and Marco Tinelli, compared Sorrell's case to a "bowl of spaghetti Milanese: jumbled pieces of evidence superficially tasty in parts but whose individual strands are muddled and lead nowhere or to ends that are simply obscure".
Benatti and Tinelli (the former's secondo luogo a capo) are defending charges of libel and invasion of privacy via a series of blogs and emails - one of the latter allegedly containing a "grossly offensive" image of Sir Martin and WPP Italia's chief operating officer Daniela Weber, labelling them "the mad dwarf and the nympho schizo".
Caldecott told the court, presided over by Mr Justice Eady, that that Tinelli is "a young businessman of dynamism and vision; he is not a kamikaze pilot under the remote control of Mr Benatti".
Sorrell's legal team had painted an implausible picture of Tinelli as someone who "veered from Professor Moriarty to Inspector Clouseau in a matter of moments," Caldecott continued.
There was no evidence of collaboration in the campaign against Sorrell between Benatti and Tinelli, the ceo of Italian advertising group FullSix, in which WPP Group has a 20% stake and Benatti is also a major shareholder.
"What could FullSix possibly gain by climbing into the ring with Sir Martin and WPP?" Caldecott asked rhetorically.
Tinelli also lacked the technical skill to conceal the origin of the blogs on his computer, he added, noting that the usage of "quite sophisticated, idiomatic" English in the blogs made it less likely that the Italian duo was involved.
As to Benatti, he also played no part in the creation and distribution of a series of internet blogs that defamed Sir Martin, Caldecott told the court.
"[Benatti's] case is simply that he would never stoop as low as this jpeg [image]," the legal eagle assured. "He also says in relation to the blog he would never have included (as the blog did) an untrue allegation that Ms Weber had had an affair with him."
The case, as the cliché has it, continues.
Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff