Thursday, 13 May 2010

Arkell v. Pressdram 1971

Whilst I was following links in Jack of Kent's blog about the David Osler libel case, I came across the case of Arkell v Pressdram 1971, where Arkell sued Private Eye for libel. I've reproduced a summary of the case below. Note Private Eye's response to a letter from Arkell's solicitors:

Arkell v. Pressdram is an otherwise obscure libel action initiated against the British satirical magazine Private Eye. The substance of the alleged libel was that Arkell was accepting bribes. What made the action famous, and a point of reference years later, was the following exchange of letters:

Solicitor (Goodman Derrick & Co.)
We act for Mr Arkell who is Retail Credit Manager of Granada TV Rental Ltd. His attention has been drawn to an article appearing in the issue of Private Eye dated 9th April 1971 on page 4. The statements made about Mr Arkell are entirely untrue and clearly highly defamatory. We are therefore instructed to require from you immediately your proposals for dealing with the matter. Mr Arkell's first concern is that there should be a full retraction at the earliest possible date in Private Eye and he will also want his costs paid. His attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of your reply.

Private Eye
We acknowledge your letter of 29th April referring to Mr J. Arkell. We note that Mr Arkell's attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of our reply and would therefore be grateful if you would inform us what his attitude to damages would be, were he to learn that the nature of our reply is as follows: fuck off.

What more would one wish to add?

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