In the courts: Allason tells court of `revolting slur'

Author and former Tory MP Rupert Allason yesterday asked a High Court libel jury to award him damages over references to him in a diary based on BBC2's Have I Got News For You programme.

A reference in the book to his opposition to the Maastricht treaty and his refusal to support the Government in a Commons no confidence vote on the issue was a "vicious and revolting slur" on his reputation, he claimed.

That opposition, Mr Allason said, reflected his determination to stick to his guns and keep his promise to his Torbay constituents and political supporters. He did not deserve to be defamed by people who thought it was clever to sneer at those in public life. But the publishers of Have I Got 1997 For You insisted that the book was light-hearted and funny, like the television programme.

Mr Allason, 45, is conducting his own case. The defendants, publishers BBC Worldwide Ltd and Hat Trick Productions, deny libel, pleading fair comment on a matter of public interest.

The diary, published in December 1996, contained a photograph of Mr Allason with the caption: "The maverick Tory MP, when he is writing spy novels, is called Nigel West, and when he is fighting against his own government is called something quite unprintable. Indeed, given Mr Allason's fondness for pursuing libel actions, there are also excellent legal reasons for not referring to him as a conniving little shit."

"This is not a jolly joke," Mr Allason told the jury. "As you look through the book, you will see there are rogues and scoundrels, Robert Maxwell included, but there is nothing that comes as close as this vile description, which I utterly refute."

He accepted that Have I Got News For You was a "robust" satirical programme, but he rejected the defence argument that only those who knew about the show would read the book and that no one would think any the worse of him. His stance over Maastricht drew no criticism from other politicians, he said, and the description of him in the book was entirely unjustified.

He was "all for humorous satire", but the book "goes far beyond what is reasonable and acceptable".

Mr Allason asked for damages to "punish the arrogance of staff who ignore legitimate complaints and a [BBC] management that allows them to do so, and to ensure that ... editors consider carefully before trampling over hard-won reputations".

Defence counsel Charles Gray QC said the publishers would argue that no reasonable reader would find the words defamatory in the light of the programme's light-hearted repartee.

The hearing was adjourned until today.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - OTE £42,000

£28000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be joining a leading s...

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant -Engineering -Renewable Energy

£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: As an Associate Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map