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Friday, March 6, 1998 Published at 20:36 GMT


HarperCollins apologises to Patten
image: [ Chris Patten: book will now be published by Macmillan ]
Chris Patten: book will now be published by Macmillan

The last governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, has reached a confidential settlement with the publisher HarperCollins.

The company had dropped Mr Patten's book about China, East and West, on the orders of its owner Rupert Mudoch.

[ image: Rupert Murdoch: protecting Chinese interest]
Rupert Murdoch: protecting Chinese interest
Mr Murdoch is understood to have been concerned the book would be critical of China.

His company, News Corporation, is expanding its interests there and has previously taken commercial decisions to avoid offending the Beijing regime.

In a joint statement, HarperCollins said it "unreservedly apologised" for claiming East and West had been spiked because it was boring.

The statement said Mr Patten would refrain from making any further comment on the matter.

"He is pleased that this matter is now resolved and he can concentrate on the completion of his book," it said.

No financial details of the settlement were given in the statement but it is believed a substantial payment will be made to Mr Patten.

He had said he would sue HarperCollins for breach of contract.

The company, which paid Mr Patten a £50,000 advance, also faced the prospect of its other authors taking their books elsewhere and a damages claim from a senior executive who resigned in protest.

[ image: Patten ending his governship of Hong Kong]
Patten ending his governship of Hong Kong
The statement said: "Settlement is today announced of the dispute between Chris Patten and HarperCollins. The parties have agreed that the precise terms on which the dispute has settled will remain confidential.

"They have however agreed that it should be publicly recorded that HarperCollins have unreservedly apologised for and withdrawn any suggestion that Chris Patten's book East and West, was rejected for not being up to proper professional standards or being too boring.

"They accept that these allegations are untrue and ought never to have been made.

"Mr Patten proposes to say no more about this settlement other than that he is very pleased that matter is now resolved and he can concentrate on the completion of his book which will be published by Macmillans in September 1998.

"This dispute was not of Mr Patten's making or choosing."

Earlier Mr Murdoch said: "Mistakes have been made and we all share the responsibility."

The chairman and chief executive of News Corporation also expressed full confidence in his remaining team at HarperCollins.

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