The newspaper signed a contract to serialise the book but changed its mind. The paper claimed that leaks to other newspapers had forced its hand, though insiders said public opinion and detailed consideration of the manuscript were also factors.
Peter Wright, the editor, is refusing to give any details of how much money has already been paid; but rival tabloids are reporting a sum of pounds 350,000.
Mr Hewitt's solicitor, Michael Coleman, said that while his client hoped the dispute could still be resolved, "he is none the less prepared, as he has been prepared before, to take this matter to court".
A spokesman for the newspaper said: "As a result of serious leaks in many newspapers, the Mail on Sunday is contractually entitled to the return of money paid and is taking the necessary legal action to secure the matter."Reuse content