Friday, 24 July 2009

Court 13 - Verdict

After a relatively uneventful day, with the jury in deliberation for nearly four hours, at 5pm they finally returned with their majority verdict and 'found for the Defence' and so Richard Desmond lost his case. In very quick succession the judge thanked the jury for their work and they left the court, he then rose and left, and Desmond and his large legal team seemed to evaporate, quickly and silently. This left the court ushers, who of course were neutral, the six press, Tom Bower, and his smaller legal team, family and supporters. Congratulations all round, hugs and kisses, and then the sight of six jurors asking Bower to autograph copies of his book - remarkable.

It was always going to be interesting to see how Desmond's own Daily Express treated it. I spoke to one of the photographers outside in the street, by chance the one from the Express, who said he wouldn't be taking any snaps of the winner or loser: his paper wouldn't print them! The Express reporter reckoned that Desmond would now sack some more staff to meet the costs of the trial (put at £1.25m).

The Independent had a decent piece which explained why there had been two jury trials and that there had been a rare appeal to the Appeal Court mid-way through the first week, which found in Bower's favour and allowed important evidence to be heard. These were the reasons for the reporting restrictions. The Guardian's headline makes the point: Judge rebuked by court of appeal during Richard Desmond libel case. Mr Justice Eady told his decision on evidence in Richard Desmond's libel case against Tom Bower was 'plainly wrong'. The Standard called it "an unprecedented attack".

It's been most interesting to attend and observe. I wish now that I'd managed to read the book in advance, and to attend some of the earliers days of the trial.

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