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Thursday, July 30, 1998 Published at 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK


Allason court win against PM's aide

Rupert Allason: They lied, lied and lied again

Former Tory MP Rupert Allason won 1,050 "nominal" damages in a case against the Downing Street Chief Press Secretary Alastair Campbell.
[ image: Alastair Campbell's article angered Allason]
Alastair Campbell's article angered Allason
Mr Allason, who writes spy thrillers under the name Nigel West, accused Mr Campbell of publishing an untrue article about him when he worked as a journalist for The Daily Mirror.

He claimed that he had lost a 75,000 book contract as a result.

High Court judge Mr Justice Popplewell said Mr Allason - an MP at the time - had not suffered any financial loss.

But the Mirror's behaviour "constituted a fraud", he said.

The former MP for Torbay, who represented himself at the trials, was also entitled to 75% of his own costs - believed to be about 50,000 - said the judge.

Mr Allason won the right to a retrial earlier this year after a jury found in 1996 that he had been the victim of a malicious falsehood in the Mirror article in November 1992 but was not entitled to damages because he suffered no financial loss.

Losses claim 'utterly unconvincing'

On Thursday Mr Justice Popplewell agreed with the jury.

He said Mr Allason had not lost money over the "false and malicious" article.

This had claimed that 50 MPs had challenged him to demonstrate his concern for Maxwell pensioners by giving them the estimated 250,000 libel damages he had just won from the newspaper in a previous libel action.

Mr Allason's claim that he had lost a 75,000 book contract because of the article had been found to be "utterly unconvincing", said the judge.

Although the article was calculated to cause financial loss it did not do so, and that was why he only awarded nominal damages, the judge said.

[ image: The Mirror, owned by Mirror Group Newspapers, said it will appeal]
The Mirror, owned by Mirror Group Newspapers, said it will appeal
After the hearing, Mr Allason said: "It has taken six years and three defence QCs and you heard the judge - The Daily Mirror was guilty of fraud.

"Their conduct was frankly disgraceful from beginning to end. They lied, lied and lied again and then tried for concealment."

The Mirror, which said its total legal costs were about 300,000, said it would take the case to the Court of Appeal.

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