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16. Richard Desmond

HOMEPAGE NEWS REPORTS INDEX NEWS SEPTEMBER 2012
TRUTH OF THE LIE COURT DOCUMENTS MEDIA
Original Source: Guardian: Sunday 16 September 2012
Sunday 16 September 2012 22.30 BST
 

The Express, OK! and Channel 5 owner made his mark at Leveson with a grandstanding performance attacking his rivals

Richard Desmond

 Job: chairman, Northern & Shell; proprietor, Express Newspapers

Age: 60

Industry: publishing, broadcasting

2011 ranking: 16

 

As the first newspaper proprietor to take the stand at the Leveson inquiry into press standards, Richard Desmond's Leveson inquiry appearance was certainly memorable. The Daily Express, OK! and Channel 5 owner queried the meaning of the word "ethics", saying "we don't talk about ethics or morals because it is a very fine line and everybody's ethics are different"; and was accused by the inquiry counsel, Robert Jay QC, of a "grotesque misrepresentation" of his papers' defamatory Madeleine McCann coverage, which resulted in a 550,000 libel damages settlement.

 

In a grandstanding performance, jokey and at times artless, Desmond laid into Paul Dacre ("the fat butcher"), the Daily Mail ("Daily Malicious"), and the Press Complaints Commission ("a useless organisation run by people who want tea and biscuits").

 

On a more serious note relating to his PCC boycott, the so-called "Desmond issue" how to get him to sign up the whatever regulatory body replaces the discredited press watchdog was a topic Lord Justice Leveson raised repeatedly with senior industry figures.

 

Pre-tax profits at Desmond's Northern & Shell dropped 80% to 5m in 2011, with an order for a 36m Gulfstream private jet cancelled. But Channel 5 prospered, with revenues up 23% to 353m in 2011 and Big Brother successfully relaunched, but Express Newspapers faced further cuts, with about 70 posts axed to help save 5m. Desmond's Health Lottery launched last September, but is likely to generate about half the 50m forecast in its first year.

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