Italian media mogul Silvio Berlusconi – day job, current prime minister of Italy – has issued a writ alleging defamation against UK-headquartered international business weekly The Economist.

The publication, avers Berlusconi, defamed him via its pre-election coverage and “sullied his good name” in its issue of April 26 with an article headlined “Why Berlusconi is unfit to govern.”

Should he lose the case, it will be the Berlusconi ego rather than the Berlusconi wallet that will suffer the most painful contusions. According to Forbes magazine he is the planet’s fourteenth richest individual with a personal fortune estimated at around $13 billion accruing from myriad business interests, among them Italy’s three largest TV networks, two newspapers and an advertising company.

Despite the purported besmirching of his good name by The Economist (as well as Italian national daily La Republica, also on the receiving end of a writ), Signor Berlusconi managed to persuade the Italian electorate that he was an all-round good guy and ambled to a sedate victory at the nation’s May 13 election.

Amid resounding judicial lip-smacking, prime ministerial counsel Roman Vaccarella confirmed that the suit had been filed and that The Economist has 120 days in which to respond. It is unlikely, he opined, that the case will come to court before early in 2002.

News source: AdAge Global